Several people have been involved in this project in one form or another. We're grateful for the help and energy of each one. Here is who they are, what they look like and a little bit about each one.
A few years ago, we decided that so many people had been involved that we should have a name and a fancy logo! What we came up with was "Team Omatjenne", and the logo is to the right. The theme captures a termite and its mound pointing to the zenith of the sun.
And of course, this work could not have happened without the generous help of the Research Directorate of Ministry of Agriculture and the staff of the Omatjenne Agricultural Research Station, which you can see more about here.
Scott Turner has been the lead investigator on the physiology and ecology of termite colonies. He is Professor of Biology at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science & Forestry in Syracuse, New York.
You can read more about him here.
Rupert Soar is formerly from the Faculty of the Wolfson School of Engineering at Loughborough University in the United Kingdom. He is now the owner of an advanced engineering firm, freeform engineering limited..
He is lead investigator on the mound structure analysis and reconstruction aspect of this work.
His web site may be found here.
Eugene Marais is Chief Curator of the National Museum of Namibia, based in Windhoek.
He has collaborated on our work on general ecology of MacrotermesMacrotermes, in particular studies on soil transport, feeding preferences and water balance.
He has also been instrumental in recruiting Namibian students for the training component of our project. He is also our principal liaison with the Namibian authorities,.
Dr Marais' interests range from general entomology to paleoclimatology.
His web site may be found here.
Justin is a research scientist at Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, where he works on topics in complex and emergent systems, with a focus on swarm robotics. He works most closely with the Self-Organizing Systems Research Group, and interact also with the Molecular Systems Lab and Microrobotics Lab.
Justin joined us beginning in 2011, to further develop his interests in swarm robotics.
Kirsten is currently working as an academic fellow with the SSR group, under Prof. Radhika Nagpal, and the WYSS Institute of Harvard University. In collaboration with Prof. Nagpal and Justin Werfel I am developing the design of a new society of collective construction robots.
Kirsten joined us with Justin beginning in 2011, also to develop swarm robots.
Wolf and Wilma manage the Omatjenne Agricultural Research Station, our field research site located roughly 25 km west of the northern Namibian town of Otjiwarongo. This work would not have been possible had it not been for the generous logistical and material support extended to us by these fine people.
Wolf and Wilma left the Omatjenne farm in 2008 to pursue other ventures. Wolf is currently working with an EU program to help emerging farmers make the transition from communal to commercial farming. Wilma bought a local butchery in Otjiwarongo and ran that until 2010. She now operates her own custom embroidery business.TOP
Jacob Theron is regional Director of Research for the Namibia Ministry of Agriculture for the northern region of Namibia, which includes the Omatjenne Research farm. He has been unstinting in his generous support for this work, including help with logistics, housing and staff.
Andreas Mbinga was for many years assistant manager of the Omatjenne research farm. When Wolf van Wielligh left the Ministry of Agriculture, Andreas took over as acting manager and was confirmed as Manager in 2010. He has continued the generous support of our project there.
Wendy is my doctoral student, and has supervised our training program while pursuing her own research.
She is interested in the ecology and biology of Termitomyces, the mutualistic fungus cultivated by Macrotermes. She advanced to candidacy in May 2007, and expects to complete her degree in 2009.
Ben joined our group in Fall 2008 and is studying for his Master of Science. He has an interest in veterinary medicine and wildlife biology, but he's also thinking about a career in research.
Ben expects to complete his degree in Spring 2010.
Grace was our first student trainee from Namibia. She came to us with an already well-developed interest in termites, having just completed a study on ecology of a major rangeland termite pest, Hodotermes mossambicus.
Grace helped initiate our surveys of incidence of Termitomyces emergence on termite mounds, as well as geographical surveys of termite mound distribution.
She is currently working as a geological field assistant for a minerals exploration company in Windhoek.
Angela was one of three Namibian trainees on the second year of our project. She helped with mound surveys and soil analyses.
After leaviing us, she worked on a USDA-sponsored project on silkworm cultivation in southern Namibia, and as a researcher in the Caprivi region. She worked for a time an AIDS-prevention/education project in Namibia. She is currently working for the Research Directorate of the Ministry of Agriculture in Windhoek.
Aletta also worked with us the second year of the project, while she was a student at the Polytechnic of Namibia.
She carried out our initial studies on food preferences.
She went on to complete her diploma in wildlife conservation.
Mendes was the third member of our student team the second year.
Mendes carried out work on the co-distribution of trees and termite mounds, as well as work on soil transport.
He is currently working to complete his degree in wildlife conservation from the Polytechnic of Namibia.
Saki was our trainee on the third year of our project. He helped with our food preference experiments.
He is currently completing his degree at the Polytechnic of Namibia and is working in the Entomology section of the National Museum.
Our work has often involved use of heavy machinery, labor and mechanical expertise. This could not have been done without the help of the dedicated crew of the Omatjenne Research Station.
Stefanie was one of four ESF undergraduates that joined our project in the Spring 2006 semester. She did an independent project on food preference and microclimate effects on associations between termite colonies and particular tree species. She also took the photograph of me on my web page.
Stefanie graduated in 2006 with a Bachelor's degree from ESF. She is currently working as a Physician's Assistant.
Jake was a senior at ESF when he joined the project in Spring 2006. His project entailed measuring the distribution of new building on the surfaces of Macrotermes mounds.
Jake graduated from ESF in Spring 2007 with a Bachelor's degree. He is currently in graduate school at the University of Exeter in the UK, and is pursuing a graduate degree in wildlife biology or conservation biology.
The third of our Spring 2006 ESF undergraduates, Kathryn did a project on social calling in assemblages of frogs.
Kathryn graduated from ESF in Spring 2006 with a Bachelor's degree. In Fall 2007, she enrolled at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.
Fran rounded out our contingent of four ESF students who joined the project in Spring 2006. Her project involved thermal biology of the nests of the white-browed sparrow weaver.
Fran is currently pursuing a graduate degree in bioengineering and molecular biology at Syracuse University.
Vincent joined the project as a field assistant in February 2009. Vincent is a recent graduate from the University of Namibia, where he earned the Bachelor of Science degree in Biology.
Vincent is on the staff of the National Museum of Nambia, where he recently obtained a position as Assistant Curator.
One of two "local dogs made good", Little G joined the project as a camp mascots, and eventually emigrated to America with Wendy.