Philip T.B. Starks

Philip T.B. Starks

Associate Professor
Robinson Hall, Room 356
200 College Avenue, Medford, MA


Animal Behavior: Recognition systems, evolution of sociality, parasite and host relationships, behavioral & chemical communication, invasion genetics

Research Interests

Graduate Research Area: Ecology, Behavior and EvolutionNeurobiology and Animal Behavior and Global Change Biology

Professor Starks is a behavioral ecologist who focuses primarily on the adaptive significance of social behavior. His approach to research is multi-faceted: He engages in studies that are observational, experimental, and theoretical. In order to answer his research questions, he uses both field and laboratory techniques. Combined, these methods have enabled him to examine the evolutionary significance of newly identified behaviors, as well as to test and advance evolutionary models of behavior.

Philip's primary areas of interest relate to the evolution of (1) eusociality, (2) complex cooperative and competitive interactions, (3) adaptive host responses to pathogens, and (4) recognition systems. Since selection may often favor high levels of plasticity in behaviors that increase survival and offspring production, an additional theme of his research is behavioral plasticity.

Starks' research is theory driven, and thus his lab has - and will continue to - study a wide range of organisms. Currently the focus is predominantly on paper wasps and honey bees.

Teaching/Courses Taught

Bio 130: Animal Behavior
Bio 183: Darwinian Medicine
Bio 051: Experiments in Ecology
Bio 244: Graduate Seminar in Evolutionary Ecology
Bio 196: Special Topics in Behavioral Research