Megha successfully defended her PhD in 2023. Congratulations!

PhD student

I am a Doctoral candidate co-advised by Dr. Volker Nehring, Prof. Dr. Susanne Foitzik and Dr. Romain Libbrecht. I am interested in using cutting-edge molecular analyses to corroborate existing field-studies or open new avenues for exploring the evolution of morphological and behavioural traits, especially related to co-operation, cheating and defense.

Current Project: Reversal of the fecundity/longevity trade-off across social transitioning in ants

The quest to understand ageing is not new. It has gripped the imaginations of the alchemists trying to brew immortality potions and explorers looking for the fountain of youth. Reproduction is a costly affair. This cost must be borne by individuals and could be a cause for ageing and death. Social insects like ants are a novelty because they form colonies containing reproductive members, usually a single queen, and workers that do not or cannot reproduce.
Yet it is the reproducing queens that live the longest compared to workers. And what about the workers? Could they reverse or suspend ageing if they too became fecund? How closely intertwined are the pathways affecting ageing, fertility and sociality? To address some of these questions, I will use a suite of experimental manipulations and transcriptomic analyses to compare the workers of around 15 species of ants to determine if those capable of reproduction are also the ones that live longer.


Since October 2018- Doctoral candidate at the University Of Freiburg
July 2017-May 2018- Research assistant with UC-Davis (Coupled Nature and Human Systems Project in Kerala, India)
January-March 2017- Research Volunteer, MacacaNemestrina Project, Malaysia
2016- MSc. University of Melbourne (Zoology)
2014- BSc. Ramnarain Ruia College Mumbai (Zoology)


Freelance, C. B., Majoe, M., Tierney, S. M., and Elgar, M. A. (2018) Antennal asymmetry is not associated with social behaviour in Australian Hymenoptera. Austral Entomology,


Mini And Mega Musings