Published: March 13, 2017

Women in Science: Corrie Moreau, Evolutionary Biologist and Entomologist

Evolutionary biologist and entomologist Corrie Moreau has traveled to remote tropical locations to collect ant specimens, made new scientific discoveries, and continues to support and mentor students and young scientists through her work with the Field Museum Women In Science program. 

We're highlighting women in science at The Field Museum and their diverse areas of research, paths to working in science, and their advice for future scientists. Hear from MacArthur Associate Curator of Insects Dr. Corrie Moreau:

How did you get to where you are?

Lots and lots of schooling! Not just formal classes, which are important, but also independent research projects that prepared me to think independently, develop research skills, and translate my results for broad audiences to understand. Before starting in my position at The Field Museum in 2008, I completed my PhD in Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University and was a Miller Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. Before that, I did an undergraduate degree in Entomology at San Francisco State University followed by a Master's degree in Ecology and Evolution also at San Francisco State University, in collaboration with the California Academy of Sciences. These programs prepared me to run my own research group and set the stage for my scientific work at The Field Museum.

What does your job entail? What's the day-to-day like?

Let me start by saying I love my job as a scientist! As an evolutionary biologist and entomologist, I spend most of my day (and career) thinking about the processes that generated and maintain the immense diversity of insects we see today and through geologic time. As part of my job, I travel to remote tropical field locations to collect specimens, use state-of-the-art molecular and genomic tools to study them, analyze these data to understand the factors that explain the biodiversity we see, write research grants to support the work we do, and supervise and mentor young scientists.

What has been your favorite part of the job, or a memorable moment?

There are many, many favorite parts of my job including collecting ants in the jungles of the world, making new scientific discoveries, and mentoring students and young scientists. But, one of the aspects of my job that I am particularly proud of is founding the Field Museum Women In Science (FMWIS) program, which now has over 1,000 members. Through the FMWIS and our partnership with The Women's Board of The Field Museum, we are able to provide summer internship opportunities for high school and undergraduate students, a fellowship for graduate students, and hold free public lectures throughout the year. The support we have received for our Field Museum Women In Science program has been incredible and includes women and men from across the city of Chicago and beyond.  

What advice do you have for future women scientists?

My advice to future women scientists is to follow your passion and let that drive your path. If you are in love with the work you are doing, then the obstacles can be overcome. And be sure to find a good community of support both intellectually, but also in your broader community.