Ware, Jessica main content.

Jessica Ware

Woman with curly hair and glasses

Associate Curator, Odonata & non-Holometabolous Minor Orders
Principal Investigator, Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics
Associate Professor, Richard Gilder Graduate School


Curator of Odonata & non-Holometabolous Minor Orders

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Curator-in-Charge: Dr. Jessica Ware (jware@amnh.org)

Collections Assistant: Ruth Salas

Research Interests

I am interested in evolutionary biology, entomology, phylogenetic methodology and organismal biology. My research focuses on the evolution of behavioural and physiological adaptations in insects, with an emphasis on how these occur in dragonflies and Dictyoptera. In particular, I combine molecular tools with morphological, behavioral, biogeographical, and physiological information to develop a holistic understanding of each group. Dragonflies and damselflies are enigmatic, commonly observed insects with a wide range of unique behaviors. I explore two of the main activities in a dragonfly’s life: flying and mating. Dictyoptera are a well studied but unresolved group, with behaviors and symbioses that are highly unique. For these taxa, I am interested in popular questions such as the how the evolution of social behavior occurred as well as in family-level phylogenetics.

Professional history:I completed her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver Canada. I obtained a PhD in Entomology from Rutgers University, where my thesis work focused on dragonfly systematics but also included the study of dragonfly flight, dictyopteran systematics and phylogenetic methodology. I am currently an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow working on the systematics of lower termites. Current projects:1. Dragonflies: Flight behavior and wing venation2. Dragonflies: Evolution of female reproductive morphology (in collaboration with Kamilla Koch, Goran Sahlen and Maria Karlsson)3. The endemic South African genus, Syncordulia (in collaboration with John Simaika and Michael Samways)4. Phylogeny of the family Synlestidae (in collaboration with John Simaika and Michael Samways)5. A new subgenus of Somatochlora or a new genus of dragonflies? (in collaboration with Milen Marinov)6. Hybridization in Stylogomphus (in collaboration with Carl Cooke and Ellis Laudermilk)7. Lower termite systematics in the context of isopteran phylogeny8. The effects of fossils on phylogeny, specifically divergence time estimation9. Evaluating the future of rare Petaltails (Petaluridae) (in collaboration with Chris Beatty and others) Scientific accomplishments:

  • Snodgrass Memorial Award, Entomological Foundation, November 2008
  • Comstock Award, Entomological Society of America, November 2008
  • Student and Young Professional Participation Award, Entomological Society of America: January 2008
  • Rutgers Travel Award: December 2007
  • 2007-2008 Bevier Fellowship
  • Excellence in Science membership, AAAS: September 2007
  • Outstanding Presentation Award, World Dragonfly Association: April 2007
  • Compton Markle Award, Rutgers Department of Entomology: April 2007
  • Rutgers Travel Award: April 2007
  • Ernst Mayr Finalist, Society for Systematic Biology: June 2006
  • Runner up, Entomological Society of America, Student Competition for the President’s
  • Prize: December 2005
  • NJWRRI Travel Award: December 2005
  • Honorable mention, NSF Graduate Research Fellowship: Spring 2005
  • Honorable mention, NSF Graduate Research fellowship: Spring 2004
  • Honorable mention, Ford Fellowship: Spring 2004
  • 2004-2003 Cook Excellence Fellowship


 (*) Denotes papers coauthored with undergraduates, which was NSF REU funded.

Refereed Publications: 

1. Baskinger, G., J. Ware, Cornell, D., M. May, K. Kjer. 2008. A phylogenetic exploration of Celithemis (Odonata: Libellulidae): the pennants of North America. Odonatologica 37(2):101-109* 

2. Ware, J. L., Litman, J., Klass, K-D, Spearman, L. 2008. Relationships among the major lineages of Dictyoptera: the effect of outgroup selection on dictyopteran tree topology Systematic Entomology, 33:429-450. 

3. Ware, J. L., Ho, S., Kjer, K. 2008. Divergence dates of libelluloid dragonflies (Odonata: Anisoptera) estimated from rRNA using paired-site substitution models. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 47(1):426-32 

4. Ware, J. L., M. L. May, K.M. Kjer. 2007. Phylogeny of the higher Libelluloidea (Anisoptera: Odonata): an exploration of the most speciose superfamily of  dragonflies. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 45(1): 289-310 . 

5. Janmaat, Alida F., Ware, Jessica, Myers, Judy. 2007. Effects of crop type on Bacillus thuringiensis toxicity and residual activity against Trichoplusia ni in greenhouses.  Journal of Applied Entomology 131(5): 333-337. 

6. Karl M. Kjer, Frank L. Carle, Jesse Litman and Jessica Ware. 2006. A molecular phylogeny of Insecta. Arthropod Systematics and Phylogeny 64(1):35-44. 

7. Myers, J. H. and Ware, J. 2002. Setting priorities for the biological control of weeds:† What to do and how to do it. In:Proceedings, Hawaii Biological Control Workshop. Technical Report # 129. Denslow, J. E., Hight, S.D. and Smith, C. W. (eds) Honolulu: Pacific cooperative Studies Unit, University of Hawaii. Pp. 62-74. 

In press publications: 

1. Nielsen, A., Ware, J. L., Mahar, J., Hamilton, G. Entomological Society of America   Student Biosecurity Debate, PRO Position.American Entomologist. Accepted June, 2009. 

2. Ware, J. L., Simaika, J. P., Samways, M. Biogeography and divergence estimation of  the relic Cape dragonfly genusSyncordulia: global significance and implications for conservation. Zootaxa. Accepted May, 2009 

3. Ware, J., Lal, S., Grimaldi, D. Mahogany-dwelling termites: a new species of Neotermes (Isoptera: Kalotermitidae) from Fiji.Bishops Museum Occasional Papers: Fijian Arthropod Survey Submitted March, 2009 


1. Ware, Jessica L. 2009. Review of “Dragonflies and Damselflies of South Africa” by Michael Samways, The Quarterly Review of Biology, 84(2): 209 

Non-peer reviewed publications:

 1. Ware, Jessica L., Louton, J. 2009. In the muck: collecting, rearing and imaging dragonfly and damselfly larvae for Encyclopedia of Life Odonata pages. The Bug Dispatch: a newsletter of the NMNH Department of Entomology 1(2):3-4. 

2. Ware, J., Louton, J. 2009. A larva worth a thousand words: imaging preserved dragonfly nymphs using a digital camera.Argia, July.