Donna McDermott

Donna McDermott
PhD Student
Population Biology, Ecology, Evolution Program


Emory University (Aug 2016 – Present): Atlanta, GA
Population Biology, Ecology, and Evolution
Graduate Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Adviser: Berry Brosi

University of Pittsburgh (Aug 2010 – Apr 2014): Pittsburgh, PA
Bachelor of Philosophy Degree
Ecology and Evolution Major
Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Certificate
Chemistry Minor
Advisers: Jonathan Pruitt, Rick Relyea
Senior Honors Thesis: Feminist Science and the Conservation of Wild Bees in Urban Gardens

Research Interests

I am interested in the impact of bumble bee personality on large-scale ecological processes, such as pollination. Along what metrics do bumble bee exhibit variance in consistent individual differences in behavior? What is the greater impact of these “personalities” on foraging behavior, response to pesticide exposure, and colony success?

Honors and Awards

  • Phi Beta Kappa
  • Chancellor’s Undergraduate Scholarship, University of Pittsburgh Honors College (2010-2014)
  • Chancellor’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship, University Of Pittsburgh Honors College (2013)
  • Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences Summer Grant, Office of Undergraduate Research, University of Pittsburgh (2012).
  • Honorable Mention from NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (2016)

Conference Participation

Science 2013- University of Pittsburgh
Poster Title: Boldness is influenced by sub-lethal interactions with predators and is associated with successful harem infiltration in Madagascar hissing cockroaches.

Work and Volunteer Experience

  • Outdoor Education Intern, Arches National Park in Moab, Utah (2016)
  • Bat Hibernacula Survey Intern, El Malpais National Monument in Grants, New Mexico (2014-2015)
  • Pollinator Field Technician, Powdermill Nature Reserve in Rector, Pennsylvania (2014)


​Wright CM, Hyland TD, Izzo AS, McDermott DR, Tibbetts EA, Pruitt JN (in review) Higher queen aggressiveness mitigates brood parasitism in a paper wasp. Behavioral Ecology

DiRienzo N, McDermott DR, Pruitt JN. (2015). Testing the effects of biogenic amines and alternative topical solvent types on the behavioral repertoire of two web-building spiders. Ethology, 121: 801–812.

Modlmeier AP, Laskowski KL, DeMarco AE, Coleman A, Zhao K, Brittingham HA, McDermott DR, Pruitt JN. (2014). Persistent social interactions beget more pronounced personalities in a desert-dwelling social spider. Biology Letters, 10.8.

McDermott DR, Chips MJ, McGuirk M, Armagost F, DiRienzo N, Pruitt JN. (2013). Boldness is influenced by sublethal interactions with predators and is associated with successful harem infiltration in Madagascar hissing cockroaches. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 68.3: 425-435.

Sweeney K, Gadd RDH, Hess ZL, McDermott DR, MacDonald L, Cotter P, Armagost F, Chen JZ, Berning AW, DiRienzo N, Pruitt JN. (2013). Testing the effects of rearing environment, selection, and developmental stage on the emergence of a behavioral syndrome. Ethology, 119: 436-447.