Ph.D. Student, Department of Entomology
Where am I Now?
Lecturer, Dept. of Entomology & Nematology, University of Florida
Ph.D. in Entomology, University of Minnesota (2019)
M.S. in Biology, Western Carolina University (2012)
B.S. in Entomology, Cornell University (2010)
Email: aulet002 [at] umn.edu
Hometown: New York City, NY
My Research: I’m a broadly-tuned organismal biologist with a special interest in the behavior, physiology, and evolution of arachnids. Arachnids are exceptionally diverse and exhibit an equally diverse array of complex and flexible behaviors, which makes them fascinating organisms to study! For my doctoral dissertation, I examined the evolution of neuromodulatory systems, which are required for complex and flexible behaviors, within the Arachnida. In particular, I focued on the quantification, anatomical distribution, and functional roles of several behaviorally important neuromodulators (dopamine, norepinephrine, and octopamine) in the central nervous systems of the wolf spider Hogna lenta and the bark scorpion Centruroides sculpturatus. My approach integrated elements of neuroanatomy, neurodevelopment, electrophysiology, animal behavior, and evolutionary biology, with the ultimate goal of increasing our understanding of the structure and function of the arachnid nervous system– a subject which, to date, has received very little attention. Before joining the Mesce lab, I had also conducted research on social behaviors in the Amblypygi (“tailless whip scorpions”), the social huntsman spider Delena cancerides, and web-spinning insects in the order Embiidina.
My Teaching: I have a very strong interest in education, and have extensive experience teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels. During my time at the University of Minnesota, I was co-instructor or lab instructor in the following courses:
- ENT 1005: Insect Biology
- ENT 3281: Veterinary Entomology
- ENT 4251: Forest & Shade Tree Entomology
- ENT 5011: Insect Structure & Function
- ENT 5021: Insect Biodiversity & Evolution
I have also taught in courses on spider biology, introductory genetics, and comparative physiology (a full list of my teaching experiences can be found in my CV). I am very interested in teaching courses at both introductory and advanced levels, and my broad training allows me to teach a variety of subjects, including organismal biology, entomology, neuroscience, anatomy and physiology, animal behavior, and evolution. In 2016, I received certification from the Preparing Future Faculty program, an interdisciplinary forum on learning and higher education offered by the UMN Center for Educational Innovation. I am always eager to expand upon and improve my teaching via new teaching opportunities, workshops, and conferences.
I am currently a Lecturer of Insect Biology at the University of Florida (Dept. of Entomology & Nematology), where my teaching includes the courses Principles of Entomology and Insect Research and Scientific Engagement. The latter is a CURE (course-based undergraduate research experience), which I teach in partnership with research faculty at UF.
My Community Outreach: I am also very involved in public science outreach, and have given many presentations on various topics to audiences of all ages at schools, museums, and other institutions throughout the United States. From 2015-16, I was head of the Entomology Outreach Program through Frenatae (the University of Minnesota Entomology Graduate Student Association). More information about Frenatae Outreach can be found here, and a full list of outreach presentations I have given can be found in my CV.
- Auletta A, Rue MCP, Harley CM, & Mesce KA. 2019. Tyrosine hydroxylase immunolabeling reveals the distribution of catecholaminergic neurons in the central nervous systems of the spiders Hogna lenta (Araneae: Lycosidae) and Phidippus regius (Araneae: Salticidae). Journal of Comparative Neurology 2019:1-20. https://doi.org/10.1002/cne.24748
- Auletta A, Rayor LS. 2011. Preferential prey sharing among kin not found in the social huntsman spider, Delena cancerides (Araneae: Sparassidae). Journal of Arachnology 39:258-262. https://doi.org/10.1636/CHi10-87.1
Selected Awards & Honors:
- CFANS Graduate Assistant Teaching Award, UMN College of Food, Agriculture, & Natural Resource Sciences (2019)
- Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, UMN Graduate School (2018-2019)
- Second Place, Graduate Student Poster Competition for the President’s Prize, Entomological Association of America National Meeting (2018)
- Dept. of Entomology Community Service Award, UMN Department of Entomology (2018)
- CFANS Alumni Society Graduate Student Professional Development Award, UMN College of Food, Agriculture, & Natural Resource Sciences (2017)
- Morris & Elaine Soffer Rockstein Fellowship, UMN Department of Entomology (2017)
- First Place, Graduate Student Poster Competition (Morphology, Physiology, & Silk section), 20th International Congress of Arachnology (2016)
- Laudier Histology Student Travel Grant, Laudier Histology Co. (2016)
- Thomas H. Shevlin Fellowship, UMN Graduate School (2015-2016)
- First Place, Graduate Student Poster Competition for the President’s Prize, Entomological Association of America National Meeting (2015)
- Heiligenberg Travel Award, International Society for Neuroethology (2015)
- Marion Brooks-Wallace Fellowship, UMN Department of Entomology (2015)
- Chiang Travel Grant, UMN Department of Entomology (2015)
- CFANS First Year Fellowship, UMN Graduate School (2013-2014)
Selected Service Positions:
- Student Member, UMN Entomology Department Social Committee (2013-present)
- Student Representative, UMN Entomology Department Curriculum Committee (2017-2018)
- President, Frenatae- UMN Entomology Student Association (2016-2017)
- Public Outreach Coordinator, Frenatae- UMN Entomology Student Association (2015-2016)
- Treasurer, Frenatae- UMN Entomology Student Association (2014-2015)
- Student Representative, UMN Entomology Department Seminar Committee (2013-2014)
When I’m not in the lab… I like learning new languages (currently Icelandic), collecting spiders, exploring the cities, cooking & eating new foods, baking cookies, craft cocktails, reading, and chilling with my dog, Gunnar.