Meet Andrea Lucky

Andrea Lucky
Andrea Lucky





















Andrea Lucky crisscrossed the country before she finally arrived at NC State. She had earned her B.A. in Biology from Brown University and her Ph.D. in Entomology from University of California at Davis. Then, she returned to the East Coast as a postdoctoral researcher at NC State. Lucky's journey through education is (in a strange way) like the ants she studies -- driven by a goal!

Originally from Cincinnati, OH, Lucky states that she always ". . . was very interested in nature, animals and being outdoors." But until she met professional biologists who studied the natural world for a living, she never thought that her love of nature could actually be a career choice.

Now, Lucky is a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Rob Dunn's lab and studies the Global Consequences of Ants. She has been impressed by the lab's focus on both basic science and public outreach -- and these strengths are precisely what drew her to Dunn's lab. Her goal is to ". . . gain experience translating science to public audiences."

Her own focus and strengths, however, are in the field of evolutionary biology and biodiversity. Lucky's training is specifically in the evolution of ants.

Lucky studies range from ". . . insect morphology to molecular genetics to phylogenetic statistics." These tools give her insight into the relationships among different species of ant, as well as their diversification and distribution patterns. Her special pleasure, however, comes from sharing her science with the general public. And ultimately, she would like to work as a ". . . researcher in a natural history museum or university with a mission to serve a broad audience."

Meanwhile, she has taken on the task of making ". . . the process of 'doing' science accessible to non-scientists." Lucky has integrated her primary research with high-impact outreach and developed citizen-science based projects. One project is the School of Ants:
". . . which uses data collected by citizen scientists to map urban ant species. In addition to guiding citizens in studying and collecting data on local ant species, this project also invites citizens to become involved in the process of conducting scientific study, from hypothesis development to data analysis and eventually even the publication process."

Lucky's life isn't all about creepy-crawlies, though. At new employee orientation, she was introduced to the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs. She says that she has enjoyed the professional development workshops, specifically those on negotiating and interviewing -- important talents for postdoctoral researchers with a plan! And Lucky advises other postdocs to have specific goals and realize the importance of focusing on your career!

As a lover of nature, Lucky's down time is also spent outdoors! She unwinds by hiking and canoeing. One of her favorite hiking spots is near the NC Museum of Art, which she says is ". . . great for a picnic or for watching bats catch insects as the sun sets." Lucky is probably checking out an ant or two along the way, too!

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