The seminar also will be on Zoom. A pre-seminar coffee will take place from 3:30 to 4:10 p.m. in 158 Briggs.
"Ants of the genus Dorymyrmex, the 'pyramid ants,' exhibit an intriguing distribution that is most concentrated not near the equator, but instead in dry temperate regions of the Americas, such as deserts, shrublands, and beaches, and including Davis, California," Oberski writes in her abstract. "Although these ants are common, widespread, and ecologically significant, their diversity and evolutionary history are still poorly understood. My dissertation research introduces Dorymyrmex to modern phylogenomics and concerted biogeographic study by integrating classic and cutting-edge approaches: I performed targeted genomics with UCEs, inferred Bayesian phylogenies and fossil-calibrated divergence dates, and also employed traditional methods like morphometrics and visual species description."
"My work (1) characterizes the major lineages of Dorymyrmex, which are morphologically diverse in the Neotropics but actively peciating (and superficially similar) in North America; (2) illustrates an intercontinental range expansion that occurred millions of years ago; and (3) characterizes the Nearctic fauna, nearly doubling the number of Dorymyrmex species in North America. Ultimately, this research contributes to our knowledge of both local biodiversity and global dispersal patterns, and reveals Dorymyrmex is a unique system for studying rapid evolutionary radiations."
"I've been fascinated by insects as long as I can remember," Jill said. "As a kid, I learned the names of the major taxonomic orders and created a small pinned collection, but I didn't realize it could be anything more than a hobby, so I shifted my sights toward becoming a medical doctor. But when I went to college, I met a professor who actually does study biodiversity and discover new arthropod species for a living. So after getting my start in research at Macalester College, and a year as an intern at University of Wisconsin-Madison, I started searching for suitable research programs across the country where I could train as a grad student doing those same things—biodiversity, evolution, and biogeography of insects or arachnids."
"I was open to almost any insect/arachnid study system because generally, the more I learn about a group, the cooler I find it, and that turned out to be very true for ants. They're amazing little underappreciated creatures with societies all their own, and I'm so happy to be a myrmecologist."
Oberski is a past president of the UC Davis Entomology Graduate Student Association, and served in leadership roles in the Girls' Outdoor Adventure in Leadership and Science (GOALS).
Oberski received a five-year Dean's Distinguished Graduate Fellowship award in 2017. In May of 2022, she was selected for a Professors for the Future Fellowship (PFTF) award, described by PFTF as "a year-long competitive fellowship program designed to recognize and develop the leadership skills of outstanding graduate students and postdoctoral scholars who have demonstrated their commitment to professionalism, integrity, and academic service. The program is designed to prepare UC Davis doctoral students and postdoctoral scholars for an increasingly competitive marketplace and a rapidly changing university environment." For her project, she recorded a series of interviews about mental and chronic illnesses and how they impact academic professional development.
Oberski, who plays tenor saxophone at community events, performed in an entomology band at the 2018 UC Davis Picnic Day as Jill “Jillus Saximus” Oberski. She dressed as a “generalized heteropteran,” which she described as “most likely a member of the family Acanthosomatidae (shield bug) or Pentatomidae (stink bug). My family and friends have called me Jillybug, so I came to be the band's representative of Hemiptera.” (See news story on Entomology website, and feature in Entomology Today, published by ESA)
Future plans? After receiving her doctorate on June 15 in a UC Davis ceremony, Oberski will be moving to Washington, D.C. this summer for a brief stint as a visiting researcher at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Then, in January 2024, she will start a three-year independent postdoctoral research position in Frankfurt, Germany.
The Oberski seminar is the last of the spring seminars, all coordinated by urban landscape entomologist Emily Meineke, assistant professor. For technical issues regarding Zoom connections, she may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.