- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Boudinot presented a talk in Germany at the 9th Dresden Meeting on Insect Phylogeny, hosted by the Senckenberg Institute. In his presentation, "Skeletomuscular Evolution of Male Insect Genitalia, with Emphasis on the Endopterygota," he explained the second chapter of his thesis to an international audience of entomologists, spanning phylogeneticists to anatomists.
At the XXIV Simpósio de Mirmecologia in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil, Boudinot will present preliminary results from his third and final thesis chapter in a symposium titled "Morphology Reloaded: Conquering the Third Dimension of Ant Evolution and Biogeography." His talk is titled "Altered States: Aculeate Anatomy and the Early Evolution of the Formicoidea."
"While this symposium is focused on the application of scanning technologies, such as X-ray computed microtomography, I will be speaking about the evolution of ant morphology through evolutionary time," Boudinot related. He will be presenting results from combined phylogenetic analysis of genome-scale DNA sequence data and a massive dataset of 576 morphological characters scored for 573 species.
"One of the novel aspects of my study is how many fossils I have included (more than 300)," Boudinot said. "The objective of this particular work is to estimate the geological age in which the ants originated, as well as the physical features of the ancestral ant, which I will then use to trace evolutionary and paleoecological patterns to the modern fauna."
Boudinot received the prestigious John Henry Comstock Award in April at the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America (PBESA) meeting in San Diego. This is the highest graduate student award given by PBESA, which encompasses 11 Western states, U.S. territories, and parts of Canada and Mexico. Its parent organization, the Entomological Society of America (ESA), will honor the six Comstock award winners--one from each branch--at its Nov. 17-20 meeting in St. Louis.
Boudinot, who was praised for his academic record, leadership, public service activities, participation in professional activities, and his publications, is the sixth UC Davis recipient of the Comstock award:
2019: Brendon Boudinot (major professor Phil Ward)
2015: Mohammad-Amir Aghaee (major professor the late Larry Godfrey)
2014: Kelly Hamby (major professor Frank Zalom)
2013: Matan Shelomi (major professor Lynn Kimsey)
2008: Christopher Barker (major professor William Reisen)
1983: Elaine Backus (major professor the late Donald McLean)
Active in PBESA and ESA, Boudinot received multiple “President's Prize” awards for his research presentations at national ESA meetings. He organized the ESA symposium, “Evolutionary and Phylogenetic Morphology,” at the 2018 meeting in Vancouver, B.C. , and delivered a presentation on “Male Ants: Past, Present and Prospects” at the 2016 International Congress of Entomology meeting in Orlando, Fla.
Boudinot served on—and anchored—three of the UC Davis Linnaean Games teams that won national or international ESA championships. The Linnaean Games are a lively question-and-answer, college bowl-style competition on entomological facts played between university-sponsored student teams.
Boudinot has served as president of the UC Davis Entomology Graduate Student Association since 2006, and is active in the campuswide UC Davis Picnic Day; he has co-chaired the department's Picnic Day Committee since 2017.
- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
The award recognizes a graduate student for distinguished research and scholarly activity in the field of social insect biology. Borowiec received a certificate, honorarium, and a one-year subscription to Insectes Sociaux.
Borowiec is now a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of evolutionary biologist/ant specialist Christian Rabeling of Rochester, N.Y. The lab will be moving to Tempe, Ariz. in January.
“What is notable about Marek is that even as he became trained as a highly accomplished molecular phylogeneticist and computational biologist, he remained focused on organism-centered questions, driven by a deep and abiding appreciation of natural history,” said Ward.
Borowiec is the first from the Ward lab to receive the Eickwort Award.
The IUSSI-NAS Committee, chaired by Terry McGlynn and Stephen Pratt, and including members Rebecca Clark, Hongmei Li-Byarlay, Juliana Rangel, and Chris Smith, praised his work as having a significant impact on the field of social insect evolutionary biology.
They issued this statement:
“Although he has just received his PhD, Marek's work has already had a significant impact on the field of social insect evolutionary biology,” said the committee of . “His dissertation, completed under the supervision of Phil Ward at UC Davis, included a landmark revision of the genera in the diverse army ant subfamily Dorylinae. Marek produced a classification of the army ants in which morphological and molecular genetic data are fully congruent with each other, an unprecedented feat in ant taxonomy. His work showed decisively that the ‘army ant syndrome' evolved independently in the New World and Old World tropics, settling a century-old controversy.”
“Besides his army ant work, Marek also contributed to phylogenomic research demonstrating that ants are the sister group of the bees and spheciform wasps, and he was first author of an important paper showing that Ctenophora, the comb jellies, is the sister group to all other metazoans, thus resolving one of the earliest phylogenetic bifurcations in the animal kingdom. Marek's strengths in taxonomy and phylogenetics are supported by his accomplishments in bioinformatics, which include developing and publishing a novel tool to manipulate DNA sequence alignments of genomic datasets.”
“Marek's recommenders praise him as a well-rounded biologist with a deep appreciation of natural history. “He doesn't just excel in ant taxonomy, or phylogenetics, or bioinformatics. He excels in all of these disciplines. It is his love for ants and his curiosity about the natural world that motivates his studies.”
Marek is also a good scientific citizen, actively serving the systematics community as a subject editor for ZooKeys and Biodiversity Data Journal and as a frequent contributor to online systematics resources and databases. His research and scholarly achievements make Marek Borowiec a very deserving winner of this year's George C. Eickwort Student Research Award.”
Borowiec's research interests include phylogeny, taxonomy, biogeography, and natural history of ants. Before enrolling at UC Davis, Borowiec received his master's degree in 2009 from the Department of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Taxonomy, University of Wroclaw, Poland.
"My focus has been primarily on ant diversity and evolution and in my research I combine field work, morphology, molecular phylogenetics, and comparative methods," Borowiec said. "I am also interested in computing and phylogeny estimation from next-generation sequencing data."