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Jose Pacheco

José in Guatemala.
José Pacheco, Doctoral Candidate
Dept. of Biological Sciences
University of Texas at El Paso
El Paso, Texas 79968
Phone: (915) 747-5443
B. Sc. Biology with Honors; Cum Laude (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Track),
University of Texas at El Paso

Curriculum Vitae


William Mackay

Cristina Campbell

Shawn T. Dash

Isreal Del Toro

Samuel Del Toro

Paul A. Lenhart

Cynthia E. Morgan

Francisco Serna

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Centennial Museum

Biographic Information

I received a Bachelor’s of Science at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) in December 2001. As part of my undergraduate experience, I became involved with research where I was involved with a special problems course under the direction of Dr. William Mackay on a project where I researched the possible biological control of the Red Imported Fire Ant with the thief ant, Solenopsis molesta. This study and mentor relationship, led to my current dissertation topic: Revision of the New World Thief Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Solenopsis): A Phylogenetic Study Based on Morphological Characters.

I am currently a Ph.D. Candidate in my fifth year of the Doctoral program in Biological Sciences here at UTEP. My research interests include both lab and field work. My main research interests are the study of arthropods, such as soil mites, butterflies and especially ants. My focus of study is mainly with the ecology, taxonomy, and systematics of ant species. I have worked with the notorious red imported fire ant, as well as other ant species of the genus Solenopsis. I am currently working in a lab where I am exposed to molecular techniques and I am learning how to use and study DNA for scientific analyses.

I have been an Assistant Instructor for several semesters in which I help develop and give lectures, set up experiments, as well as assist and grade students in several freshman biology laboratories. Since my entrance into the doctoral program, I have done the lab preparation and have taught both Organismal Biology for Biology Majors (Course 1108; 15 classes) and Introductory Biology for Non-Majors (Course 1103; 5 classes). Additionally, since August 2004, I have helped direct the research of five undergraduate students whose studies range from taxonomic revisions of whole ant genera to morphometric and DNA sequence analyses between cryptic species. I really enjoy interacting with students and I take pride when my students learn something new. I believe teaching is in my future. These courses, studies, and relationships have been extremely rewarding and have helped me realize that my ultimate goal is to join the professoriate where I will be able to accomplish both research and teaching.

My immediate goals are to successfully defend my dissertation in 2006, and to begin a Post-Doctorate soon after where I will further expand my skill set and publications in order to pursue a position as a University Professor.


My dissertation is a revision of the New World thief ants (genus Solenopsis). The genus has had a long history with several attempts at classification and identification key construction, but with no striking success. Solenopsis is a very common and speciose genus in the New World tropics, but much less so in the Old World. The genus Solenopsis includes some of the most common ants, most notably the notorious “fire ants”. It also includes some of the smallest ants, which are known as thief ants. Many species of this group live in nests of other ants, where they steal food and brood of their hosts. They also appear to be effective predators, and may be natural enemies of the founding queens of the imported red fire ants. Very little ecological work has been done on this potentially important group of predators, due to the difficulty in identification and separation of species. Therefore, systematic work on this genus is of the utmost importance. This group of ants has been ignored, due to their small size, and the lack of good morphological characters which can be used to separate species. My dissertation will include a study of systematics (the study of the kinds and diversity of organisms ant their interrelationships) of the thief ants. This will include literature and specimen searches, curation of collections, measurements of features of specimens, drawing of specimens, and sorting of perhaps hundreds of species into higher groupings. Little is known about thief ants and my research will be the base for further study of this potentially important ant. I will do a revision of the genus by describing specimens, naming or renaming species, and arranging the ants in appropriate evolutionary order. Moreover, keys to species as well as illustrations, and other identification aids will be accomplished.


Selje, T.; Mackay, W.P.; Pacheco, J.; Negrete, S. and Gove, A. 2005. The Rediscovery of Temnothorax striatulus (Stitz) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Sociobiology. Submitted.

Pacheco, J.A.; Mackay, W.; Morgan, Cynthia. 2004. A New Species of Gnamptogenys Roger of the sulcata Group (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from Bolivia. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 106(2): 434-437.

Morgan, Cynthia; Mackay, W.; Pacheco, J.A. 2003. A New Gnamptogenys of the striatula Group from Bolivia (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Sociobiology Vol. 42, No. 3:553-558.