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Bernal Receives NSF Grant for 4-Year Research Project

Ximena Bernal

Study to Examine Evolutionary Innovations in Insects

Ximena Bernal, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and a Research Associate at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, was awarded a $ 508,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for a four-year-long research project in the field of animal behavior.

Her project will address a long-standing biological mystery by exploring the evolutionary origins of eavesdropping between animal species, specifically the ability of midges to home in on the calls of calling frogs.

By examining evolutionary innovations in insect hearing, this study will have implications for microphone design, bioacoustics and the co-evolution of sexual and exploitive communication.

In addition, the midge-frog system has parallels to the mosquito-human relationship, which enlarges the evolutionary scope of the questions addressed in this project.

Assistant Professor,
Department of Biological Sciences