Benjamin Blanchard


I am gay and I am a PhD candidate in evolutionary biology. //

I’m a PhD candidate in evolutionary biology at the University of Chicago and the Field Museum of Natural History. I study morphological evolution and diversification in ants. In particular, I’m interested in the spiny ant genus Polyrhachis, and how the extraordinary variation in thorn-like spines evolved and has impaced the evolution of the 700+ species in the group. I primarily use phylogenetic methods to determine the relationship between species and the way their traits have changed over millions of years. I also conduct competition and predator-prey interaction trials in southern China in order to understand the function of spines. Through this work, I hope to expand our understanding of how diversity arises and is maintained, using one of the most diverse groups in one of the most dominant insect groups on Earth! My other scientific activities include regular outreach at the Field Museum, one-on-one tutoring, and maintaining “The Daily Ant,” a blog on all things ants.

Twitter: @BenDBlanchard