I use ants as model systems to study the evolution and behavior of highly social organisms. One aim of my research is to understand how the structure of social networks influences the spread of infections. Animals that live in close quarters run the risk of sharing germs, and they often engage in "protective behaviors"—such as quarantining the sick—to help keep contagion at bay. Such actions are not unique to humans, but are also displayed by social insects, such as ants. To explore how group dynamics play into immunity and infection, I have established colonies of ants in the lab and sequenced their genome. I will use techniques in genetics, immunology, molecular biology, and behavior to address whether the number of ants in each colony, the age distribution of the population, or the types of "workers" in each network affects the spread of disease. The findings from this research could point toward new approaches for preventing or controlling epidemics such as influenza and Ebola.