Ant U is an endeavor designed to involve a variety of academic disciplines to engage a broad audience in the wonders of the complex biological systems of army ants and their hundreds of associated species (“guests").
It is an idea borne out of an award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Collections in Support of Biological Research program to the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology (EEB), in partnership with the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History (CSMNH), to preserve and curate the Carl W. and Marian E. Rettenmeyer Army Ant Guest Collection. This world-class collection of over 2 million army ants and their guests is the result of 50 years of careful, detailed fieldwork in Central and South America by the Rettenmeyers. Ant U expands existing outreach components of the grant in an effort to share the secrets revealed by this project with society at large.
Multiple departments and schools across UConn campuses will be participating in Ant U over the four year life of the grant, each challenged with exploring the idea “Learning from the Miniature Societies of Army Ants.” Their efforts will be guided by three overarching themes: (1) the role of the real, (2) complexity, and (3) informing human culture.
Stay tuned—let’s see what Army Ants and their Guests have to teach us!