Global studies student shares experiences from Guatemala

April 21, 2016

Daniel Shipley is a senior at ASU majoring in global studies. With the assistance of the Global Studies Travel Grant offered by the School of Politics and Global Studies, Shipley was able to intern with for the International Business Academy in Guatemala. After his trip, Shipley took the time to provide a recap of her experiences:

Question: What were some of the challenges that you had to overcome while on your trip? Download Full Image

Answer: Some of the biggest challenges that I had to overcome included the language barrier, time awareness (a lot of Guatemalans work on their own time schedule and often show up late), and the safety precautions I needed to take.

Q: What were your takeaways from this trip?

A: The news portrays a lot of other countries as these very dangerous corrupt places and almost leaves you with a sense of wherever you may go something bad will happen to you. I did have to take different precautions as to staying safe, however Guatemala is a very lovely and ever changing country. They are a lot more advanced than what the media would have you believe.

Q: How do you think that this trip will help you after graduation?

A: I love Guatemala, I have made several friends while I was there. I have networked with people down in Guatemala that I believe will benefit me in the future.

Q: If someone was interested in an experience such as this, what advice would you give them?

A: Be aware of your surroundings. You are not at home and so take extra precaution as to what you do and where you go. Plan where you go and don’t always use the same route. Travel within the country, go to the most traveled places and if you have time go to the places that people tell you about. Immerse yourself in the food. Just because they have McDonalds and subway down there doesn’t mean you should eat it. Make sure the food you are eating is safe but eat the food of the country you are going to and immerse yourself within the culture. The Guatemalan people are really helpful, accepting, and humble people.

Q: What do you like about being in the School of Politics and Global Studies?

A: I love the school of Politics and Global Studies because it has opened my eyes to the world. I have enjoyed classes with Dr. Ripley where he has taught me so much about the world. The counselors are top notch and the opportunity that is available to us is endless. The School of Politics and Global Studies has really taught me to dream big and go for my dreams.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: My plans are to work for a year while I begin applying for several positions within the Government. Mainly I want to keep traveling and working with other countries outside the U.S.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share?

A: I would just like to thank the school for the opportunity I have had to go on this adventure. I learned a lot about myself and also about the people in other parts of the world. I have also come back to the United States with a greater appreciation of things we have here. I am proud to be a citizen of the United States, but I also because of this program realize the need to be a helping hand to others in the world.

Matt Oxford

Assistant Director of Strategic Marketing and Communications, College of Global Futures


New research solves enigma in ant communication

ASU scientists part of study that shows how 'winner-winner' behavior may shape animal colonies

April 21, 2016

In many animal species, physical battles and other aggressive acts determine a certain “pecking order.” In the world of ants, fights that involve biting and restraining often determine winners and losers.

But what about battles that do not result in a pecking order, but instead lead to groups of winners and losers? Does this require a new type of aggressive interaction? dominance biting in ants One ant dominates another by biting the head. Photo by Juergen Liebig Download Full Image

“We were curious as to whether dueling behavior in ants results in a winner and a loser, or if it is a winner-winner interaction that allows workers to express aggression without requiring a loser,” said Jürgen Liebig, associate professor at Arizona State University’s School of Life Sciences and senior author of a new study published in the current online issue of American Naturalist.

To help answer this question, the researchers developed a new computer model to manipulate several ant behaviors and to see how they affected the social structure of a colony.  This model explains the complexity and diversity of social hierarchies in ants.

The scientists began by examining the behaviors and social hierarchy of the Indian jumping ant (Harpegnathos saltator). When a colony’s queen dies, the female workers engage in ritual fights to establish dominance. Although these battles can be fierce, they rarely result in physical injury to the worker ants. Ultimately, a group of approximately 10 workers will establish dominance and become a cadre of worker queens called “gamergates.”

A social hierarchy like this is called a “shared-dominance hierarchy.” Other ant societies establish pecking orders in which one individual is dominant and all others share a subordinate status.

The researchers identified three behaviors related to establishing a hierarchy in this ant species: biting, in which one ant bites another’s head, has a clear winner and loser, with the winner establishing dominance; policing, in which subordinate workers restrain challengers to a dominant individual; and dueling, in which two individuals engage in a martial display with their antennae, but which has no clear loser.

When biting was present, but policing and dueling were absent, the model resulted in a linear hierarchy with one dominant individual. When biting and strong policing were present, the model resulted in a despotic hierarchy with a single dominant individual. It was only when biting, policing and winner-winner dueling were all present that the model resulted in a shared-dominance hierarchy.

“We see examples of all three types of social hierarchies in various ant species, but we also see them throughout the animal kingdom and we know that shared-dominance hierarchies can be found in animal societies from lions to dolphins,” said Clint Penick, postdoctoral researcher at North Carolina State and lead author of the study. “We think the presence or absence of winner-winner behaviors may be an important factor in determining the nature of dominance hierarchies for a wide variety of species.”

Other authors of the study include: Takao Sasaki, co-lead author with University of Oxford; and Zachary Shaffer, Kevin Haight and Stephen Pratt of Arizona State University.

ant interactions

Three behaviors used to establish a shared-dominance hierarchy in Indian jumping ant colonies. Image by Clint Penick

Sandra Leander

Assistant Director of Media Relations, ASU Knowledge Enterprise