We are part of the School of Biological Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia. Georgia Tech is an outstanding university in the southeastern United States and specializes in engineering, science, and research. The School of Biological Sciences places particular emphasis on systems approaches to understanding biology. We are always recruiting motivated students interested in undertaking undergraduate or graduate level research. Interested students may contact Goodisman directly at his email address.
The importance of sociality
The evolution of sociality represented one of the major transition points in evolutionary history. We are interested in understanding how evolutionary processes affect social systems and how sociality, in turn, affects the course of evolution. The subjects of our research are the social insects, which include ants, termites, social bees, and social wasps. Our research focuses on understanding the social structure and mating biology of social insects. In addition, we are interested in the process of development and morphological evolution in the context of sociality. In order to address these issues, we make use of a variety of techniques, including computer simulations, analytical theory, field studies, and laboratory experiments, as well as molecular genetic and genomic analyses.
Social insect comparative genomics
The comparison of genome sequences from multiple species allows us to investigate the interplay of highly social behavior and caste specialization with the evolution of genes and genomes.
Epigenetic inheritance and social evolution
Epigenetic marks, which include DNA methylation, play an important role in social insect development and may have helped to facilitate the evolution of highly social behavior. We are synthesizing computational and empirical approaches to better understand the role of epigenetics in different social insect taxa.
Development in social insects
Social insect societies function efficiently because they are composed of distinct castes. We study the molecular mechanisms underlying caste differentiation.
Natural selection in social insects
Social insects face selective pressures which may lead to unusual patterns of morphological evolution. We investigate how natural selection operates in social systems.
Cooperation and conflict in insect societies
Social insect colonies operate as integrated superorganisms. However, colonymates can also come into conflict. We study factors affecting the balance between conflict and cooperation in insect societies.
Invasive social insects
Social insects are among the most successful of invasive species. We use genetic techniques to understand how invasive social insects enter and establish introduced populations.
Nest construction and function
The nest represents a critical feature of most social insect societies. We are investigating how social insect nests are constructed and function under diverse conditions.
Social insect mating systems
The mating systems of social insects are constrained because of the importance of maintaining a strong family structure. Nevertheless, multiple mating has evolved in several species. We study the consequences of multiple mating in social insects.
Life history strategies of social insects
Social insect colonies make decisions as to how to allocate resources to growth and reproduction. We study how these decisions are made and affected by environmental and genetic factors in natural populations.