Derek S. Sikes

Curator of Insects
Assistant Professor of Entomology
University of Alaska Museum
907 Yukon Drive
Fairbanks, AK 99775-6960

email: ffdss 'at'



Derek S. Sikes, Ph.D. - Principal Investigator Departmental webpage ~ Curriculum Vitae ~ vCard

Past & Present People of the Sikes Lab

Prospective Students

People working in the Sikes lab and their projects, listed chronologically.

Dr. Derek Sikes, Ph.D. 2003

Principal Investigator

Seeker of truth (or least falsified hypotheses, take your pick) concerning the evolution of certain necrophagous coleoptera.

University of Alaska People:

Dr. Kenelm Philip

UAM Research Associate. 1971 - present.

Ken has been working on the butterfly fauna of Alaska and the circumpolar north since the 1966. Ken founded the Alaska Lepidoptera Survey in 1970 and has been running it ever since. The ALS collection is the second largest North American arctic butterfly collection in the world (behind the CNC). A field guide to the Alaskan butteflies is in progress.

Brandi Fleshman

EPSCoR Undergraduate Research Award, summer 2007 and Independent Research (1 term) student The Spider Fauna of Alaska. Summer 2007+.

Brandi began work in my lab as a volunteer auto-montage photographer. She has since begun work on updating the checklist of Alaskan spiders. To date (Nov 2007) she has increased the count from 247 as listed on the most recently published checklist (Chamberlin 1947) to 464 with 14 new state records.

University of Calgary People:

Dr. Ronald Madge

Research Associate. 2003 - present.

Ron has been collaborating with me on the monography of the Nicrophorinae since 1995. He has been working on species problems involving issues of identification, biogeography, and phylogenetics. Ron completed his PhD under Dr. George Ball at the University of Alberta.

Kyle Judd

Zoology 507 - Independent Research (1 term) student "Special Problems in Zoology" - Long branch attraction in the Nicrophorinae. Summer 2004.

Kyle began work in my lab as a volunteer preparing Coleopteran specimens for my Rhode Island inventory project. He later completed a 1 term project as the data wrangler for a study comparing different models of evolution in a long-branch attraction case. Kyle's lively banter was a nice addition to the lab. He hopes to train in forensic entomology someday.

Marcia Ricketts

Zoology 507 - Independent Research (1 term). "Special Problems in Zoology" - A species problem in the Nicrophorinae. Fall 2004.

Marcia is trying to determine if the name Nicrophorus praedator belongs to a valid species distinct from its current senior synonym, Nicrophorus investigator. She is using morphometric data and mitochondrial DNA sequence data from the Cytochrome Oxidase II gene. If N. praedator is a good species, it is thought to occur in far eastern Russia and Japan, so Marcia has been focusing on specimens from these regions.

Nichole Wood

Short term Research Assistant - Comparison of Silica Gel to Anhydrous Ethanol as a DNA preservative medium for Nicrophorus beetles. Summer & Fall 2004

Nichole has been extracting DNA from hindleg muscle tissue of Nicrophorus beetles preserved in either silica gel dessicant or anhydrous ethanol. The traditional protocol for preserving specimens has been to use ethanol but if silica gel works as well or better, it would be preferable for use on collecting expeditions. Collecting the beetles, she says, has been the most challenging part of the project!

Tonya Mousseau, MSc

PhD Student - starting Winter 2005 Phylogeny and biogeography of the nepalensis species group (Silphidae: Nicrophorus)

Tonya recently finished a MSc degree under Dr. Robert Roughley at the University of Manitoba that was focused on the taxonomy of the haliplid genus Brychius. She will concentrate on the biogeography and molecular phylogenetics of one of the larger species groups in the Nicrophorinae.

Chandra Venables

MSc student (Graduated September 2007) Rapid radiation in the genus Nicrophorus?

Chandra improved the phylogenetic resolution at the base of the genus Nicrophorus using multiple genes of both the mitochondrial and nuclear genomes. In the process she tested whether the genus had experienced a rapid radiation.

Elizabeth M. Wong, Margaret L. Yu, & Stephanie E. Luider (left to right) Crescent Heights High School

Aventis Biotech Challenge
Evolution of the Cytochrome Oxidase I gene in the investigator group of species (Coleoptera: Silphidae: Nicrophorus)

A 1.4 MB jpg of their poster can be found here.

Three high school students joined my lab during the Winter term of 2005. They sequenced COI for the investigator group and compared the characteristics of the resulting sequences to those of COII, with emphasis on codon and base compositional bias.