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 R.J. Kallal.  2019.  Nylanderia of the World Part III: Nylanderia in the West Indies.  Zootaxa 4658(3): 401-451.

LaPolla, J.S. and P. Barden.  2018.  A new aneuretine ant from the Paleocene Paskapoo Formation of Canada.  Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 63 (3): 435–440 

Williams, J.L. and J.S. LaPolla.  2018. Two new Prenolepis species (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from Indomalaya and Australasia, with a redescription of P. dugasi from Vietnam.  Zootaxa 4441: 171-180.  

Matos-Maravi, P., R.M. Clouse, E.M. Sarnat, E.P. Economo, J.S. LaPolla, Borovanska, C. Rabeling, J. Czekanski-Moir, F. Latumahina, E.O. Wilson, M. Janda.  2018.  An ant genus-group (Prenolepis) illuminates the biogeography and drivers of insect diversification in the Indo-Pacific.  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 123: 16-25. 

Mueller UG, H.D. Ishak, S.M. Bruschi, et al. 2017. Biogeography of mutualistic fungi cultivated by leafcutter ants. Molecular Ecology 26:1–17.

LaPolla, J.S., J.L. Williams, and E. Fan. 2017. Acropyga oreithauma, a new species from Panama.  Transactions of the American Entomological Society 143: 1-5.

Williams, J.L. and J.S. LaPolla.  2016.  Taxonomic revision and phylogeny of the ant 
 genus Prenolepis.  Zootaxa 4200(2): 201-258.

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