Virginia Emery

Alumna, Biology Researcher and Educator



PhD in Environmental Science, Policy and Management, UC Berkeley, December 2013

B. S. Honors with Specialization in Biology, Queen's University, 2008

Research Description

Evolution of social behaviours and colony function

I am interested in the evolution of complex social behaviours in ants, particularly in ant-ant associations. My research focuses on chemical, genetic and behavioural aspects of ant nesting interactions, and how interspecific nesting associations affect the division of labour and colony function.

Chemical ecology of ants

Because insects interpret the world through the chemical lens, chemical aspects of insects are particularly important for understanding aspects of their communication and behaviour. I am interested in the chemical ecology and evolution of ants, particularly the function of cuticular hydrocarbons as it relates to nestmate recognition and behaviour.

Invasive species and conservation biology

The invasive Argentine ant is one of the most damaging agricultural pests, causing billions in damage annually. My research has included investigations of queen and brood pheromones of Argentine ants, with experiments to try using synthetic pheromones for biological control. Additionally, I am working on projects to use chemical phenotypes to identify cryptic species and describe insect biodiversity.

Selected Publications

Emery V. J., and Tsutsui N.D. (2013) Recognition in a Social Symbiosis: Chemical Phenotypes and Nestmate Recognition Behaviors of Neotropical Parabiotic Ants. PLoS One 8:e56492.

Emery V. J., Landry J-F. and Eckert C. G. (2009) Combining DNA barcoding and morphological analysis to identify specialist floral parasites (Lepidoptera: Coleophoridae: Momphinae: Mompha). Molecular Ecology Resources. 9:217-223.

King L. E., Emery V. J., Robertson R. J., Vallender R., and Martin P. R. (2009) Population densities of Golden-winged Warbler, Blue-winged Warbler, and their hybrids in eastern Ontario. Ontario Birds. 27:2-22.


Honors and Awards

Teaching awards

Fellow in the Summer Institute for Preparing Future Faculty 2012

Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award 2011

Instructional Improvement Grant recipient 2011


Select fellowships and grants

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Doctoral Fellow 2010-13

President’s prize for 2nd place oral presentation, Entomological Society of America 2012

Sigma Xi, Grant-in-Aid of Research 2010, 2012

American Association for the Advancement of Science, Student Award 2009


Recent Teaching

GK-12 Instructional Fellow, UC Berkeley
Sagehen Outdoor Education Program, Truckee, CA, 2012-13

Graduate Student Instructor and Coordinator, UC Berkeley
Biology of Tropical Islands, Mentored research field course, French Polynesia 2011

Graduate Student Instructor, UC Berkeley
Environmental Issues, Introductory environmental science class 2010

Graduate Student Instructor, UC Berkeley
Forest Genetics, Advanced class in population genetics 2009

Reader, UC Berkeley
Environmental Biology, Introductory environmental science 2008

Contact Information



Research Group(s)

Mailing Address

Dept of Environmental Science, Policy, & Management
UC Berkeley
130 Mulford Hall #3114
Berkeley, CA 94720