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Clint Penick

Clint Penick

Assistant Research Professor, The Biomimicry Center


  • Affiliate Global Futures Scholar, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory
  • Assistant Research Professor, The Biomimicry Center


Dr. Clint Penick is an assistant research professor in the Biomimicry Center, a joint effort between Arizona State University and Biomimicry 3.8 that facilitates biomimicry education and research activities. Penick is an integrative biologist whose research focuses on the evolution and ecology of social insects, particularly in urban environments. Even in a city the size of New York, humans are outnumbered by ants 2000 to 1. But what resources support urban animal populations? And what factors influence which species thrive and which are excluded from urban habitats? To answer these questions, Penick studies social insect communities in cities and their interactions with humans. His work traces human foods through urban food webs and investigates how these foods sometimes end up back on our dinner plates.


  • PhD, Biology, Arizona State University, 2012
  • BS, Biology, Florida State University, 2005


Journal Articles


Ellison, A. M., C. J. LeRoy, K. J. Landsbergen, E. Bosanquet, D. Buckley Borden, P. J. CaraDonna, K. Cheney, R. Crystal-Ornelas, A. DeFreece, L. Goralnik, E. Irons, B. Garramon Merkle, K. E. O'Connell, C. A. Penick, L. Rustad, M. Schulze, N. M. Waser and L. M. Wysong. 2018. Art/science collaborations: New explorations of ecological systems, values, and their feedbacks. Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America 99(2):180-191. DOI: 10.1002/bes2.1384. (link )

Epps, M. and C. A. Penick. 2018. Facultative mushroom feeding by common woodland ants (Formicidae, Aphaenogaster spp.). Food Webs 14(Mar):9-13. DOI: 10.1016/j.fooweb.2017.12.001. (link )


Diamond, S. E., L. Chick, C. A. Penick, L. M. Nichols, S. Helms Cahan, R. R. Dunn, A. M. Ellison, N. J. Sanders and N. J. Gotelli. 2017. Heat tolerance predicts the importance of species interaction effects as the climate changes. Integrative & Comparative Biology 57(1):112-120. DOI: 10.1093/icb/icx008. (link )

Gospocic, J., E. J. Shields, K. M. Glastad, Y. Lin, C. A. Penick, H. Yan, A. S. Mikheyev, T. A. Linksvayer, B. A. Garcia, S. L. Berger, J. Liebig, D. Reinberg and R. Bonasio. 2017. The neuropeptide corazonin controls social behavior and caste identify in ants. Cell 170(4):748-759.e12. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.07.014. (link )

Helms Cahan, S., A. D. Nguyen, J. Stanton-Geddes, C. A. Penick, Y. Hernaiz-Hernandez, B. B. DeMarco and N. J. Gotelli. 2017. Modulation of the heat shock response is associated with acclimation to novel temperatures but not adaptation to climatic variation in the ants Aphaenogaster picea and A. rudis. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology 204(Feb):113-120. DOI: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2016.11.017. (link )

MacLean, H. J., C. A. Penick, R. R. Dunn and S. E. Diamond. 2017. Experimental winter warming increases thermal performance and primes acorn ants for warm weather. Journal of Insect Physiology 100(Jul):77-81. DOI: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2017.05.010. (link )

Penick, C. A., S. E. Diamond, N. J. Sanders and R. R. Dunn. 2017. Beyond thermal limits: Comprehensive metrics of performance identify key axes of thermal adaptation in ants. Functional Ecology 31(5):1091-1100. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.12818 . (link )

Penick, C. A. and J. Liebig. 2017. A larval ‘princess pheromone’ identifies future ant queens based on their juvenile hormone content. Animal Behaviour 128(Jun):33-40. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2017.03.029. (link )

Yan, H., C. Opachaloemphan, G. Mancini, H. Yang, M. Gallitto, J. Mlejnek, A. Leibholz, K. Haight, M. Ghaninia, L. Huo, M. Perry, J. Slone, X. Zhou, M. Traficante, C. A. Penick, K. Dolezal, K. Gokhale, K. Stevens, I. Fetter-Pruneda, R. Bonasio, L. J. Zwiebel, S. L. Berger, J. Liebig, D. Reinberg and C. Desplan. 2017. An engineered orco mutation produces aberrant social behavior and defective neural development in ants. Cell 170(4):736-747e9. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.06.051. (link )


Brent, C. S., C. A. Penick, B. Trobaugh, D. Moore and J. Liebig. 2016. Induction of a reproductive-specific cuticular hydrocarbon profile by a juvenile hormone analog in the termite Zootermopsis nevadensis. Chemoecology 26(5):195-203. DOI: 10.1007/s00049-016-0219-8. (link )

Diamond, S. E., L. M. Nichols, S. L. Pelini, C. A. Penick, G. W. Barber, S. Helms Cahan, R. R. Dunn, A. M. Ellison, N. J. Sanders and N. J. Gotelli. 2016. Climatic warming destabilizes forest ant communities. Science Advances 2(10):e1600842. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1600842. (link )

Karlik, J., M. Epps, R. R. Dunn and C. A. Penick. 2016. Life inside an acorn: How microclimate and microbes influence nest organization in Temnothorax ants. Ethology 122(10):790-797. DOI: 10.1111/eth.12525 . (link )

Penick, C. A., C. A. Crofton, R. H. Appler, S. D. Frank, R. R. Dunn and D. R. Tarpy. 2016. The contribution of human foods to honey bee diets in a mid-sized metropolis. Journal of Urban Ecology 2(1):juw001. DOI: 10.1093/jue/juw001. (link )


Penick, C. A., A. M. Savage and R. R. Dunn. 2015. Stable isotopes reveal links between human food inputs and urban ant diets. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 282(1086):20142608. DOI: 1098/rspb.2014.2608. (link )

Penick, C. A. and A. A. Smith. 2015. The true odor of the odorous house ant. American Entomologist 61(2):85-87. DOI: 10.1093/ae/tmv023. (link )


Penick, C. A., C. S. Brent, K. Dolezal and J. Liebig. 2014. Neurohormonal changes associated with ritualized combat and the formation of a reproductive hierarchy in the ant Harpegnathos saltator. Journal of Experimental Biology 217(9):1496-1503. DOI: 10.1242/jeb.098301. (link )

Penick, C. A., J. Ebie and D. Moore. 2014. A non-destructive method for identifying the sex of ant larvae. Insectes Sociaux 61(1):51-55. DOI: 10.1007/s00040-013-0323-5. (link )


Diamond, S. E., C. A. Penick, S. L. Pelini, A. M. Ellison, N. J. Gotelli, N. J. Sanders and R. R. Dunn. 2013. Using physiology to predict the responses of ants to climatic warming. Integrative & Comparative Biology 53(6):965-974. DOI: 10.1093/icb/ict085. (link )

Penick, C. A., B. Trobaugh, C. S. Brent and J. Liebig. 2013. Head-butting as an early indicator of reproductive disinhibition in the termite Zootermopsis nevadensis. Journal of Insect Behavior 26(1):23-34. DOI: 10.1007/s10905-012-9332-x. (link )


Penick, C. A., N. N. Copple, R. A. Mendez and A. A. Smith. 2012. The role of anchor-tipped larval hairs in the organization of ant colonies. PLOS One 7(7):e41595. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0041595. (link )

Penick, C. A. and J. Liebig. 2012. Regulation of queen development through worker aggression in a predatory ant. Behavioral Ecology 23(5):992-998. DOI: 10.1093/beheco/ars062. (link )

Penick, C. A., S. S. Prager and J. Liebig. 2012. Juvenile hormone induces queen development in late-stage larvae of the ant Harpegnathos saltator. Journal of Insect Physiology 58(12):1643-1649. DOI: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2012.10.004. (link )


Penick, C. A., J. Liebig and C. S. Brent. 2011. Reproduction, dominance, and caste: Endocrine profiles of queens and workers of the ant Harpegnathos saltator. Journal of Comparative Physiology A 197:1063-1071. DOI: 10.1007/s00359-011-0667-0. (link )


Holbrook, C. T., R. M. Clark, D. Moore, R. P. Overson, C. A. Penick and A. A. Smith. 2010. Social insects inspire human design. Biology Letters 6(4):431-433. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2010.0270. (link )


Penick, C. A. and W. R. Tschinkel. 2008. Thermoregulatory brood transport in the fire ant, Solenopsis invicta. Insectes Sociaux 55(2):176-182. DOI: 10.1007/s00040-008-0987-4. (link )