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Meet the Faculty: Patrick O'Grady

O'Grady

Patrick O'Grady, professor, entomology

Academic Focus: insect biodiversity, systematics and evolution

Previous Positions: Assistant/associate professor, University of California, Berkeley, 2006-2017; assistant professor, University of Vermont, 2003-05

Academic Background: Clarkson University, 1989-93; M.S., University of Arizona, 1993-98; postdoctoral fellow, American Museum of Natural History, 1998-2003

Last books read: “Craft Cider Making”; “Cider Hard and Sweet: History, Traditions, and Making Your Own”

What do you do when not working? Cycling, brewing, spending time with family

What gets you out of bed in the morning? My 8 year old. And it's usually too early.

Current research projects: My research uses DNA sequences to understand insect evolution. I am working on two large groups, fruit flies (Drosophilidae) and craneflies (Tipulidae). Drosophila and relatives are some of the most important model systems in modern genetics, yet much of their evolutionary relationships remain unknown. Craneflies, with over 18,000 known species, are the largest family of flies and a major component of the earth's biodiversity.

Courses you're most looking forward to teaching? I enjoy teaching students about entomology. In the past, I've taught courses for entomology majors, as well as those geared toward non-science majors. Both are fulfilling and I look forward to teaching them here at Cornell.

What movie about your field gets it completely wrong?: My research uses DNA sequences to understand evolutionary relationships in insects. Many movies get DNA, evolution and insects completely wrong. Insect movies often get aspects of their life history or basic physiology wrong. Giant ants created by nuclear fallout in "Them?" Not likely. My favorite has to be an X-files episode where the geneticist explains about HOX gene evolution.

What most excites you about Cornell CALS?: The opportunity to collaborate across departments and disciplines is one of the reasons I moved to Cornell and CALS offers wonderful opportunities to do cross disciplinary research.

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