John LaPolla, Ph.D.




Contact Info

Science Complex, Room 3101E


B.S., Biology
Stockton College of New Jersey

Ph.D., Entomology
Rutgers University

Areas of Expertise

Systematics and taxonomy of ants


I am a biodiversity scientist, fascinated with understanding the global diversity of ants. As such my students and I conduct research involving revisionary taxonomy, building phylogenies, studies on the structure and function of morphological features and fieldwork. This last point is especially noteworthy because I aim to link all my science to field studies where real, live individuals can be observed in a natural setting. My students and I frequently travel to locations around the world to conduct ant surveys. I employ a variety of techniques to the study of ant biodiversity ranging from morphology to phylogenomics. Much of my research has focused on two aspects of ant diversity: understanding the mutualistic relationships Acropyga ants have with mealybugs and revisionary taxonomic work within the subfamily Formicinae. That said, I have increasingly become interested in understanding the tempo and distribution of ant fossils around the world particularly from Cenozoic fossil locations and what they may tell us about modern patterns of ant diversity. I am eager to meet with both interested undergraduates and prospective graduate students to discuss opportunities for research in my lab.


LaPolla J.S., and S.A. Schneider. 2023. Trophobiosis between a new species of   
   Acropyga (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) and new Neochavesia (Hemiptera,    
   Xenococcidae) from Peru, and establishment of the Acropyga smithii species-group.    
   ZooKeys 1154: 1-16. doi:10.3897/zookeys.1154.97578

Schneider S.A., and J.S. LaPolla. 2022. A Neotropical complex of Ripersiella species 
  (Hemiptera, Coccomorpha, Rhizoecidae) collected from the nests of Acropyga ants 
  (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). ZooKeys 1123: 1-30. 

Schneider S.A., J. Sodano and J.S. LaPolla. 2022. Distinguishing symbiotic partners of  
  Acropyga ants from free‐living soil inhabitants. Neotropical Entomology, 

Williams, J.L., Y.M. Zhang, J.S. LaPolla, T.R. Schultz, and A. Lucky. 2022. Molecular 
  delimitation of morphologically cryptic species in globetrotting Nylanderia 
  (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) species complexes. Insect Systematics and Diversity 6(1),    

Schneider S.A., and J.S. LaPolla. 2020. Trophobiosis between a new species of 
  Williamsrhizoecus (Hemiptera: Coccomorpha: Rhizoecidae) and Acropyga silvestrii
  (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Tanzania. Zootaxa 4853(2): 283-291.

Williams, J.L, Y.M. Zhang, M.W. Lloyd, J.S. LaPolla, T.R. Schultz and A. Lucky. 2020. 
  Global domination by crazy ants: phylogenomics reveals biogeographical history and 
  invasive species relationships in the genus Nylanderia (Hymenoptera: Formicidae).  
  Systematic Entomology. 31 January 2020,.

Courses Taught

  • BIOL 206 Introduction to Ecology and Evolution
  • BIOL 208 Biodiversity
  • BIOL 353/553 Invertebrate Zoology
  • BIOL 461/561 Entomology
  • BIOL 608 Biodiversity Science