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Doctor of Philosophy


Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

New Brunswick, NJ, USA


Dissertation   |   Physiological Color Change in The Blue-Fronted Dancer Damselfly: The Control and Function of Color Change in Argia apicalis Males (Odonata: Zygoptera: Coenagrionidae)


Committee   |   Michael May, PhD (chair), George Hamilton, PhD, Jessica Ware, PhD, Cesar Rodriguez-Saona, PhD,  John Abbott, PhD


Graduate Certificate of Science

Tropical Ecology & Zoology

James Cook University

Townsville, Queensland, Australia  


Advisor   |   Richard Rowe, PhD


Bachelor of Science

Marine Biology

University of Rhode Island

Kingston, RI, USA


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Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

New Brunswick, NJ, USA

2016 - 2019

Laboratory Assistant

  • Studying and imaging the terminal segments of Argia apicalis males to further our understanding of how tactile stimulation is received by males during tandem formation

2010 - 2016

PhD Research

  • Designed and constructed a large in situ netted enclosure in order to study the mating behavior of Argia apicalis in a natural environment

  • Performed a photographic mark-recapture survey to determine the frequency of mating-associated physiological color change exhibited by male Argia apicalis
  • Tested camouflage efficacy via the creation of a mechanical binary choice device that mimicked natural damselfly movements

James Cook University

Townsville, Qld, Australia  


Independent Study 

  • Determined the species distribution and population size of lynx spiders (Oxyopidae)

University of Rhode Island, Graduate School of Oceanography

Narragansett, RI, USA


Undergraduate Senior Project     

  • Performed habitat and risk assessments to aid the Northern Diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin terrapin) conservation efforts in Rhode Island, by analyzing current environmental, scavenger and human risk factors, and cross referencing them against Rhode Island USGS reports to determine ideal nesting locations
  • Wrote a report on the feasibility of introducing a new breeding population into RI’s Narrow River, and presented it at the 2004 Annual Rhode Island Natural History Survey Conference

2003 - 2004

Laboratory Technician

  • Identified genera, sex, and instar of Atlantic zooplankton (mainly Copepoda) as part of a multi-year effort to determine the abundance and spatial distribution of zooplankton on Georges Bank
  • Participated in a two week URI GSO/NOAA specimen collection trip on Georges Bank during January 2004 in extremely cold and rough open water conditions

James Cook University

Townsville, Qld, Australia  


Independent Study 

  • Observed and recorded aggressive and territorial behavioral patterns exhibited by green tree weaver ants, Oecophylla smaragdina
  • Generated an ethogram for aggressive behaviors in order to analyze interactions between, and within, the colony
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Whispell, A.M., May, M.L., Bauman, M. (in submission) Male Damselflies, Argia apicalis (Odonata: Zygoptera: Coenagrionidae), Satisfy Conflicting Thermoregulatory, Signaling, and Camouflage Requirements Using Physiological Color Change. Behavioral Ecology


Whispell, A.M., Schultz, T.D., May, M.L. (in preparation). How Physiological Color Change Affects The Conspicuousness of Argia apicalis Males (Odonata: Zygoptera: Coenagrionidae). Animal Behavior

Whispell, A.M., May, M.L.  (in preparation). Mating-Controlled Physiological Color Change Operating As An Anti-Predator Defense Strategy in Argia apicalis (Odonata: Zygoptera: Coenagrionidae)



Whispell, A.M. 2017. "A Slew of Student Activities Slated for Entomology 2017." Entomology Today, Entomological Society of America, Accessed 20 October 2017.



2018    Kutztown University, Professional Professional Development Fund Grant

              Kutztown University, Kutztown, PA

2016    Rutgers University, Department of Entomology Headlee Graduate Research Fellowship

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ

2016    RU Teaching Assistant and Graduate Assistant Professional Development Fund Award

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ

2016    RU Graduate School Travel Award

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ

2015    RU Teaching Assistant and Graduate Assistant Professional Development Fund Award

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ

2015    RU Graduate School Travel Award

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ

2015    RU Graduate Entomology Student Association Travel Award

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ

2014    RU Graduate School Travel Award

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ

2000    Centennial Scholarship

University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI (2000–2004) 


2020    Whispell, A.M. Revising traditional invertebrate biology lab curricula to focus on comparative anatomy, physiology, and behavior across the tree of life.  

            Entomological Society of America annual meeting, virtual meeting.

2019    Whispell, A.M. Color Change and Thermoregulation in the Blue-Fronted Dancer Damselfly (Odonata: Zygoptera)  

            Entomological Society of America annual meeting, Saint Louis, MO, USA

2018    Whispell, A.M. How physiological color change affects the conspicuousness of the blue-fronted dancer damselfly, Argia apicalis (Odonata) 

            2018 ESA, ESC, and ESBC Joint Annual Meeting (Entomology 2018), Vancouver, BC, CANADA

2017    Whispell, A.M. Dual-Controlled Physiological Color Change in Mature Argia apicalis Males (Odonata: Zygoptera)

94th Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of Pennsylvania, Kutztown, PA, USA 

2016    Whispell, A.M. Now You See Me… Now You Don’t: How Argia apicalis Males Hide in Plain Sight (Odonata: Coenagrionidae)

2015 XXV International Congress of Entomology , Orlando, FL, USA 

2016    Whispell, A.M. Hey, Where Did That Damselfly Go?  Studies on Physiological Color Change in Argia apicalis

Seminar given at the University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA   

2015    Whispell, A.M. Physiological Color Change in Response to Mating-Associated Behaviours in Mature Argia apicalis Males (Odonata: Coenagrionidae).

International Congress of Odonatology semiannual meeting, La Plata, Argentina

2015    Whispell, A.M. Mating-Associated Physiological Color Change in Argia apicalis (Odonata: Coenagrionidae)

Dragonfly Society of the Americas annual meeting, State College, PA, USA

2014    Whispell, A.M. Copulation-Associated Color Change in Argia apicalis (Odonata: Coenagrionidae)

Entomological Society of America annual meeting, Portland, OR, USA

2004    Whispell, A.M. Foundation of a New Breeding Population of Diamondback Terrapins, Malaclemys terrapin terrapin, on the Narrow River,

in Narragansett, Rhode Island

Annual Rhode Island Natural History Survey Conference, Providence, Rhode Island, USA


Kutztown University

Kutztown, PA, USA


Zoology - Laboratory

  • Taught students how to perform proper dissections and use both compound and dissecting microscopes 

  • Helped students comprehend the importance of the accumulation of evolutionary advancements in the different phyla in Kingdom Animalia 

  • Instructed students on the best way (synapomorphies) to identify members of each phyla

  • Taught students the physiological and anatomical differences between representative members of some of the major phyla

  • Took students on field trip to practice field identification skills, aquatic sampling methodology, and proper use a field notebook.

2018 – 2019

Introduction to Biology - Lecture

  • Used interactive activities, class discussions, i-clicker quizzes, online assignments, and lectures to teach non-biology majors about basic biological concepts; major topics covered include:

    • Mitosis and cancer

    • Meiosis, the concept of heredity, and Mendelian genetics

    • Evolution and the theory of evolution by natural selection

    • Differences between bacterial and viral infections in relationship to antibiotic and vaccine functionality

    • Facts about genetic engineering and why it is controversial 

    • General ecology, the importance of biodiversity, and the challenges of conservation biology

    • Climate change and the role each student plays in the world through the choices they make everyday

  • Taught students how to do their own research in lieu of believing what they see on social media

2017 – 2019

Introduction to Biology - Laboratory

  • Taught non-biology majors general biological topics related to the scientific method and critical thinking.

  • Used laboratory time to clarify challenging lecture topics, including: natural selection, mitosis, meiosis, DNA structure, etc.


Invertebrate Biology - Laboratory & Lecture

  • Assisted students in learning the anatomy, behavior, ecology, and evolutionary relationships between all metazoan invertebrate phyla and subphyla
  • Encouraged student self-synthesis and integration of topics across all phyla
  • Created a laboratory manual that aided student understanding of concepts ranging from evolutionary relationships to feeding mechanisms across all invertebrate phyla

2017 – 2018

Principles of Biology - Laboratory

  • Taught students fundamental biological topics related to the scientific method, essential laboratory skills, experimental design, and analysis of experimental results

  • Aided students in the development of scientific writing and proper citations

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

New Brunswick, NJ, USA

2014 – 2015

Biological Research Laboratory

  • Fostered a supportive, discussion-based environment that encouraged students to openly participate, ask, and answer questions without concern for judgement
  • Aided students’ in learning the basics of hypothesis-based science by using real-life examples and situations as metaphors with which they could relate
  • Created diagrams, images, and charts that helped students to understand concepts and not simply memorize answers
  • Working in small groups, trained students to perform, fully comprehend, and understand the importance of several molecular biology techniques, including DNA isolation and purification, polymerase chain reactions, gel electrophoresis, and DNA sequence analysis

2011 – 2014

Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II

  • Generated laboratory lessons, exercises, and hand-on activities that encouraged small group learning, and provided students with the opportunity to ask and answer their own questions and teach one another
  • Used videos, diagrams, models, and interactive discussion to engage students and help them to identify and understand the functions and interactions associated with the different parts of the human body
  • Utilized dissection of different organisms, along with hand-drawn, color-coded coloring pages and diagrams, to teach comparative anatomy and illustrate differences between human and other organismal anatomy
  • Created handouts, online learning resources, quizzes, and practical exams that required students to integrate knowledge from different parts of the course  

2010 – 2011

General Biology I and II

  • Used hands-on, in-class activities to teach students basic cellular biology, genetics, evolution, ecology, and taxonomy

University of New England

Portland, ME, USA


Introductory Anatomy and Physiology

  • Prepared and taught a detailed curriculum using a mix of hands-on group activities, coupled with thought-provoking homework assignments, and comprehensive exams.
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