Fiorella Ramirez-Esquivel

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I grew up chasing frogs and catching tadpoles with my brother and sister so that we could watch them grow up and turn into frogs. Dad was a research veterinarian so we always kept all sorts of pets at home. Because both of my parents had biology backgrounds we were always encouraged to ask questions and got quite unique answers in return.  I remember being six or seven and mum explaining valencies and chemical bonding using a hilarious analogy which involved different elements having different numbers of arms that they could use to hold hands with each other. I guess that made me curious about how the things around me worked and motivated me to study science. When I got to Year 9 in high school we got to do a big science research project that pretty much made up all of our marks for the semester. I had been curious about how eyes worked for some time so I chose to do my project on colour vision. At university I got to learn more about sensory physiology not just vision but also hearing and chemoreception. Although they all work in different ways the common theme that captivated me was how animals transform physical information (light, sound waves, molecules) into usable signals. In my final year I did a research project with Jochen Zeil and Ajay Narendra looking at the sensory sensilla on the antennae of Myrmecia pyriformis. This work led onto my honours project which focused on using a variety of microscopy techniques (SEM, TEM, light microscopy) to study how the eyes and antennal sensory sensilla of ants change with variation in body size and the time of day at which animals are active. I am currently preparing manuscripts for publication based on this research and I am hoping to start my PhD later this year.

Qualifications:

  • 2012 Honours in Microscopy, Australian National University, Canberra. Thesis Title: “From large to small, from day to night: the sensory costs of miniaturisation in ants”. Supervisors: Ajay Narendra, Jochen Zeil and Melanie Rug
  • 2009 – 2011 Bachelor of Science (Adv), Majors: “Zoology” and “Ecology, Evolution and Genetics”
  • 2007 – 2008 International Baccalaureate, Narrabundah College, Canberra

Publications:

  1. Narendra A, Ramirez-Esquivel F & Ribi WA. 2016. Compound eye and ocellar structure for walking and flying modes of locomotion in the Australian ant, Camponotus consobrinus. Scientific Reports 6: 22331
  2. Ramirez-Esquivel F, Zeil J & Narendra A. 2014. The antennal sensory array of the nocturnal bull ant, Myrmecia pyriformis. Arthropod Structure and Development 43: 543-558

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