• Title Senior Lecturer in Biology; Director, Undergraduate Program in Neuroscience
  • Education PhD, Boston University
  • Phone 617-353-2470
  • Area of Interest Science education and undergraduate mentorship, social behavior, neuroethology, behavioral ecology
  • CV

Current Research

Like other social insects, ants live in large colonies comprised of family members that work together as an integrated unit, a lifestyle that has lead to incredible ecological success. My research has focused on understanding the neural and physiological mechanisms that underlie the surprisingly sophisticated task performance of workers in these colonies. More recently I have worked on projects aimed at understanding how patterns of worker brain evolution and brain metabolism are linked to the behavioral, social, ecological, and life history variation that exists across ant species.
While I still collaborate on active research projects, my primary academic focus is now undergraduate education. My goal is to develop courses and programs that are interactive, inquiry-based, and inclusive, ensuring that our majors in the life sciences are prepared for any future career path. As Director of the Undergraduate Program in Neuroscience, I also oversee all administrative aspects of the College’s Neuroscience major.

Selected Publications

  • Azorsa F, Muscedere ML, Traniello JFA (2022) Socioecology and evolutionary neurobiology of predatory ants, Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, https://doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2021.804200
  • Giraldo Y, Muscedere ML, Traniello JFA (2021) Eusociality and senescence: neuroprotection and physiological resilience to aging in insect and mammalian systems, Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biololgy, https://doi.org/10.3389/fcell.2021.673172
  • Waxman HK, Muscedere ML, Traniello JFA (2017) Behavioral performance and neural systems are robust to sensory injury in workers of the ant Pheidole dentata, Brain, Behavior and Evolution, https://doi.org/10.1159/000470899
  • Muscedere ML, Helms Cahan S, Helms KR, Traniello JFA (2016) Geographic and life-history variation in ant queen colony founding correlates with brain amine levels, Behavioral Ecology, https://doi.org/10.1093/beheco/arv152
  • Muscedere ML, Gronenberg W, Moreau CS, Traniello JFA (2014) Investment in higher order central processing regions is not constrained by brain size in social insects, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2014.0217
  • Muscedere ML, Traniello JFA (2012) Division of labor in the hyperdiverse ant genus Pheidole is associated with distinct subcaste- and age-related patterns of worker brain organization, PLoS ONEhttps://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0031618
  • Muscedere ML, Willey TA, Traniello JFA (2009) Age and task efficiency in the ant Pheidole dentata: young minor workers are not specialist nurses, Animal Behaviour, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2008.12.018
  • Thorne BL, Breisch NL, Muscedere ML (2003) Evolution of eusociality and the soldier caste in termites: influence of intraspecific competition and accelerated inheritance, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USAhttps://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2133530100


Courses Taught:

  • BI 315 Systems Physiology
  • BI/NE 542 Neuroethology
  • BI/NE 545 Neurobiology of Motivated Behavior

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