Rong ma.jpg

Dr Rong Ma



Ph.D. Integrative Biology

          University of Texas (2017)

B.A. Biological Sciences

         Cornell University (2010)


Research Interests

I am interested in the mechanistic basis of behavioral plasticity, especially in the contexts of evolution and social behavior. My research combines behavioral assays, statistics, functional genomics, and gene editing to dissect the genetic and physiological factors that influence social behavior and communication, using honey bees as a model.   With colleagues in the Grozinger and Rasgon labs, I am developing novel methods to apply CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing to diverse arthropods, which will enable tests of gene function in a wide variety of contexts. We will use these methods to better understand the evolution of pheromone communication, the reproductive division of labor in social insects, and the deep conservation of genes underlying behavioral deficits between animals and humans.


Academic appointments                                                          


Postdoctoral Fellow – Penn State University


Graduate Research Intern – NSF & Smithsonian Institute


NSF Graduate Research Fellow


Teaching Assistant – UT Austin: Evolution, Comparative Animal Physiology.


Integrative Biology Fellow – UT Austin


Teaching Assistant – Weill Cornell Medical College - Qatar



Kardish MR, Mueller UG, Amador-Vargas S, Dietrich EI, Ma R, Barrett B, Fang CC. Blind trust in unblinded observation in ecology, evolution, and behavior. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. 2015; 3:51.

Ma R, Mueller UG, Rangel J. Assessing the role of β-ocimene in regulating foraging behavior of the honey bee,Apis mellifera. Apidologie, 2016. 1-10. doi: 10.1007/s13592-015-0382-x

Ma R, Villar G, Grozinger CM, Rangel J. Larval pheromones act as colony-wide regulators of collective foraging behavior in honeybees. Behavioral Ecology. 2018 Jul 4;29(5):1132-41.

Ma R, Rangel J, Grozinger CM. Honey bee (Apis mellifera) larval pheromones regulate gene expression related to foraging task specialization. bioRxiv. 2019 Jan 1:587113. doi: