A Texan Future For Myrmecos

Atta texana – photographed at Brackenridge Field Laboratory at the University of Texas in Austin.


Big news!

On January 1st I will be starting as Curator of Entomology at the University of Texas in Austin.* I can’t even begin to convey how excited I am about this unexpected progression of my career. I will be managing a working research collection of over 1 million invertebrates, teaching entomology, and returning in full to ant evolution research. Mrs. Myrmecos (who has concurrently landed a postdoctoral spot in Nancy Moran’s microbiome evolution lab) and I are looking forward to this move for hundreds- perhaps even thousands!- of reasons. Among them: the caliber of our colleagues at UT, the fantastic research environment, the vibrant Austin culture, our many friends in town, a rich subtropical insect fauna. Plus, there are nests of Atta texana leafcutter ants right outside my new office. I mean, really. It’s like the search committee planted them there on purpose.

I mentioned this move was unexpected, and it really was. I began the year with no intention of anything other than moving forward with the insect photography business. My toes had been out the academic job pool since I went indie in 2011, and I’ve been happy running my own show. But a recent visit to the Austin revealed that the particulars of this curator position could be an unusually close fit for both me and for the University of Texas. So, I jumped. We’ll be pulling up our prairie stakes and moving in late fall.

See you in Texas!

*Since nearly everyone who heard the news asked about it, the photo business will continue as a sideline, as it was for many years before I went full-time. The insect photography galleries will remain in place, accumulating new content as time allows. I will no longer have time for private lessons and commissions, alas. The BugShot series of workshops is awesome, of course, and will live on.

41 thoughts on “A Texan Future For Myrmecos”

  1. Congratulations to the entire Myrmecos colony! What a fantastic opportunity, and I’m so glad you’ll all be able to continue following your passions, both in the lab and out!

  2. Congratulations, welcome to Texas…and you’ll discover that half the small towns around insist they were “built on an anthill” because of the variety and number of ants.

  3. Dream job! Texas is awesome – so much to explore, and Austin is such a great city. Are you and Jo fans of PBS’s “Austin City Limits”? And did I mention – Dream job!

  4. Major congrats, I’m so excited for you guys! If you don’t mind me asking: will you still be able to do all the travelling, photography and business management you’ve been able to focus on since 2011? I imagine you accepted your curatorship taking this into consideration, after all.

  5. Thanks for all the congrats and kind words!

    Some aspects of the photography business will have to be scaled back, JasonC. In particular, the commissioned projects and private lessons will go, I will teach fewer workshops, I may shift some of my activity on social media to better suit the goals of the entomological collection. My travel shouldn’t be affected much, since the travel opportunities of the new job will balance out the dropped travel plans from the photo business.

  6. Most excellent, Alex !! Hope you enjoy the new job & environment. The burning question is — will you wear a cowboy hat and boots now, hoss ?

  7. James C. Trager

    This is fabulous for the Myrmecos family, and for Texas entomology and for the Texas ants project.
    (Note, Danny M., Robin V. P.

  8. Wonderful news, Alex! Austin is a great city, and I think it will be politically sympatico to you guys (as it was for my daughter, who moved there from Palo Alto to get her Ph.D.).

  9. Congratulations! I look forward to seeing your upcoming research papers. My family is from Texas and I’ve had the opportunity to do a little collecting in the state, especially around the Panhandle. My mother grew up with the dreaded “red ants” – Pogonomyrmex barbatus. You don’t play on one of their mounds!

  10. Rachel Graham

    Congratulations to you and your wife! That’s fantastic. Justin and I will be moving just a few hours away from you to Lafayette, so hopefully you’ll have some local workshops that we’ll be able to attend. Again, I’m very happy for you both!

  11. Nice kudos to you and your wife. I will love to meet you when you arrive. I teach photography at UT Austin and do some workshops at BFL. I am also a good friend of John and Kendra Abbott.

  12. Pingback: – Alex Wild Photography In Diapause

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