We are broadly interested in how evolution produces variation in insect form and function. We use ants and bees as models for studying how evolutionary mechanisms shape variation in social behavior.

The red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, is currently a primary system of study (fire ant photo credit: M. Goodisman)


PhD Position: NSF-supported graduate studies in evolutionary epigenetics and genomics of social insects.

We have two, recently-funded projects in the lab to support graduate students; both use functional genomic and transcriptomic methods to study the genetic and epigenetic factors that underlie differences in social structure.

The first project, in collaboration with Ken Ross at UGA, explores how a supergene and phenotypic plasticity influence variation in colony queen number and social behaviors in the fire ant Solenopsis invicta.

The second project, in collaboration with Sarah Kocher at Princeton University, investigates how gene regulatory evolution has influenced evolutionary variation in social behavior in halictid bees.

The Hunt Lab is a young and dynamic research group dedicated to fostering the success of its lab members. We are a part of the Entomology Department, one of many departments in the life sciences at the University of Georgia. The diversity and multitude of faculty at UGA results in diverse areas of expertise and coursework availability to help students reach their full potential. Students will take coursework and receive training in entomology, genetics, and bioinformatics.

Requirements: An interest in broad evolutionary questions and a strong desire to develop bioinformatic expertise. Experience or interest in field work is also a plus. Applicants must meet requirements of admission to the Graduate School at the University of Georgia.  The start date is flexible, but the student would ideally begin Fall Semester 2018. 

Prospective applicants should email Brendan Hunt at huntbg@uga.edu with a statement of interest.


January 2018

This semester we welcome two new undergraduate researchers to the lab, Hannah Haden and Zane Robinson.

July 2017

Congratulations to Joanie for successfully completing her master's degree with a great defense seminar!

New manuscript, Variation in DNA methylation is not consistently reflected by sociality in Hymenoptera, published in Genome Biology and Evolution.

March 2017

Sam Arsenault received an Honorable Mention for his NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program application. Congratulations Sam!

Joanie King will be pursuing an Entomology PhD at Texas A&M beginning this fall. Congratulations Joanie!

November 2016

New manuscript, Developmental DNA methyltransferase expression in the fire ant Solenopsis invicta, published in Insect Science.

August 2016

Joanie King just attended the amazing Ant Course 2016 at the Edward O. Wilson Laboratory at Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique. Way to go, Joanie!

This semester we welcome two new undergraduate researchers, Cole Hurst and David Pierce.

April 2016

Sam Arsenault was awarded a 2016 Innovative and Interdisciplinary Research Grant from the UGA Graduate School. Congratulations Sam!

New manuscript, The genome and methylome of a subsocial small carpenter bee, Ceratina calcarata, published in Genome Biology and Evolution.