Using ‘living fossils’, graduate student investigates evolution and antibiotic resistance

All gardeners know what it’s like to try and weed a garden. Even when you keep up with it, sometimes you miss a root or a seed, and the weeds grow back.

As it turns out, this experience applies not only to human gardeners but also to a type of ant that farms its own garden of fungus.

PhD candidate Kirsten Gotting studies evolutionary biology and fungus-growing ants as a member of the Currie Lab in the Department of Bacteriology and the Genetics Training Program. The Currie Lab’s collection of leaf-cutter ants, one of many types of fungus-growing ant, offers a window into the relationships between the ants, the fungus, and other pathogens and bacteria.

With NASA award, PhD student seeks answers to life’s biggest questions

Lena Vincent started her career as a graduate student with big questions: How did life begin? Does life exist elsewhere in the universe?

“Realizing that you can turn these existential questions that everyone asks themselves into a scientific career was really exciting,” said Vincent, a PhD student in David Baum’s lab at UW–Madison.