Interested in the behaviour of ants and how they use their refined sense of smell, I joined the Ulrich lab in 2022 to study brood care in clonal raider ants, Ooceraea biroi.
During my Ph.D., I studied the learning and memory of ants, and tested if they could be used as bio-detectors of human cancer. More specifically, I trained ants to associate the volatile compounds emitted by cancer cells with a reward, and see that ants were able to discriminate cancer samples from cancer-free ones based on olfaction. Later, I tested if ants were able to do the same with a whole organism, and I demonstrated that they could detect cancer based on the urine of tumour-bearing mice. I also used chemistry tools to identify the compounds emitted by cancer samples.