Lab News

Ophelia’s work published in PNAS.

Some good things happen during a pandemic too. Ophelia’s work on the click beetle clicking mechanism was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in January of 2021.

Press releases from Illinois, VirginiaTech, and Argonne-APS.

And the video that explains the work:

Fan-girl moment

Joe Palca interviewed Marianne Alleyne for NPR’s “All Things Considered” about the ABClab’s recently published work on cicada-wing replication techniques.

Cicadas might help humans discover new hydrophobic materials.

Marianne Alleyne elected next Vice President-elect for the Entomological Society of America

Marianne is so honored to be able to continue to serve her beloved professional Society.  She will begin her term as VP-Elect at the conclusion of ESA’s Virtual Annual Meeting, Entomology 2020, November 11-25. She will then serve as ESA Vice President beginning in November 2021, President beginning in November 2022, and Past President beginning in November 2023.

More Media Coverage of the ABClab’s work

Insects in the News

  • Interview about cicadas on Chicago’s WGN Radio 720, John William’s Show. September 2nd, 2020.
  • Interview about bees and wasps on Chicago’s WGN Radio 720, John Williams’ Show. September 25th, 2020.
  • Interview about insects and bioinspired design on Chicago’s WGN Rado 720, John Landecker’s Show. October 26th, 2020.

ABC-lab starts a new collaboration to study leafhopper brochosomes

We are super-exited to be part of a truly multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional team to study leafhopper brochosomes. We spent much of the summer learning about these beautiful but TINY insects. Many of our evenings were spent collecting them. A great way to introduce our new lab member Elizabeth (Lizzie) Bello to Central Illinois. Learn more about this multi-year project here and here.

Marianne and Lizzie collecting all the leafhoppers.
Leafhopper Line-Up (Picture by Lizzie Bello)

Cicadas in the News

Many areas in the United States are seeing emergences of periodical cicadas. That means much interest for our cicada work with the Miljkovi-lab and the Cropek-labs. In addition, some more of our work was published in scientific journals. You can read about it here:

Neotibicen pruinosus dog-day cicada. Picture by Catherine Dana. Used with Permission.

Bioinspired Design: A Practice in Making Analogies

Professor Aimy Wissa (MechSE) and Prof. Alleyne gave a talk recently to the general public about the bioinspired design process. Thank you to the University YMCA for hosting us.

Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) Annual Meeting, Austin, TX

Attending the SICB meetings was great fun. Music, BBQ, Voodoo Donuts and Awesome Science. Maybe it was too good to last? The Covid19 pandemic hit soon after this January 2020 meeting.

      • How does morphology affect jumping kinematics of click Beetles? Ophelia Bolmin, Marianne Alleyne & Aimy A. Wissa (15-minute presentation)
      • The role of cuticular diffraction gratings in beetle iridescence, wetting and friction interactions. Lihua Wei, Kristen Reiter, Thomas McElrath, Alison Dunn & Marianne Alleyne (15-minute presentation)

Annual Meetings of the Entomological Society of America, St. Louis, MO

The ABC-Lab was well represented at EntSoc’s Annual Meetings.

      • Fabrication of multifunctional engineered materials inspired by insect wing surfaces Junho Oh, Catherine Dana, Julian Reed, Nenad Miljkovic, Donald Cropek and Marianne Alleyne (10-minute talk)
      • Handy design tools to help you survive the Antlion Pit Competition. Marianne Alleyne and Aimy A. Wissa (infographic poster)
      • What’s the point of being shiny if nobody can see you? Effects of diffraction gratings on friction and wettability of beetle cuticles Kristen Reiter, Lihua Wei, Alison Dunn, Thomas McElrath and Marianne Alleyne (poster)
      • Invited talk: Improve it or lose it: Modifying and updating biology labs. Tanya Josek and Marianne Alleyne (15-minute symposium presentation)
      • Bugs on bugs: The ectomicrobiome of cicadas. Catherine Dana, Bailey Clancy, Nenad Miljkovic, Donald Cropek, Marianne Alleyne and Mark Davis (infographic poster)
      • Power amplification in click beetles: Kinematics and dynamics modeling of the jump. Ophelia Bolmin, Alison Dunn, Aimy A. Wissa and Marianne Alleyne (poster)
      • What are Ento-Allies? Gwen Pearson, Jessica Ware, Corrie Moreau, Andrew Suarez, Gail Kampmeier and Marianne Alleyne (poster)
Olivia Bolmin, the engineer, presenting at her first entomology meeting. Here she is talking about her work with Dr. Adrian Smith. Looks like she enjoyed the experience.

This was also the meeting where Prof. Alleyne and Elizabeth Bello first met and started talking about Lizzie potentially joining the ABCLab. She did! The start of a wonderful career in entomology started here, mark my words.

Re-integrating Biology

In early December 2019 Prof. Alleyne participated in an NSF workshop – Reintegrating Biology Jumpstart – Atlanta GA. This workshop is part of an effort by NSF to reintegrate biology into a unified and integrated field, rather than a siloed one, because it could lead to many exciting and transformative scientific discoveries. Voices from people like Prof. Alleyne and others in the research community can help in the effort to determine the opportunities and challenges for integrating across the subdisciplines of biology. It was a very interesting few days.



A wonderful paper coming out of a wonderful collaboration with the Alison Dunn (Materials Tribology Laboratory, MechSE) and Tommy McElrath (Insect Collection, Illinois Natural History Survey) was published in October 2019. You can read more about it here:

Iridescent beetle. Art by Olivia Boyd. Used with permission.
    • Diffraction Gratings Alter the Surface Friction of Iridescent Beetle Cuticle Against Fibrous Surfaces. Lihua Wei, Kristen E. Reiter, Thomas McElrath, Marianne Alleyne and Alison C. Dunn*. Biotribology V20 100108 Publication Date October 21, 2019. DOI: 10.1016/j.biotri.2019.100108

National Academies Workshop

Prof. Marianne Alleyne at the National Academies main offices in Washington, DC. Humbled.

Prof. Alleyne was part of a National Academies Workshop Program Committee for “Bio-Inspired Signature Management”, which was held at the Academies’ main offices in Washington, DC, September 15-16th, 2019. We discussed how organisms (moths, beetles, cuttlefish, octopuses, zebras, etc.) camouflage themselves at different spectra, and what we can possibly learn from them to hide our own signatures, particularly in the infrared. (Edit: you can read the report here)




This Spring we celebrated two graduations. Tanya Josek is now Dr. Tanya Josek (Entomology). And Kristen Reiter finished with a Masters (Entomology).

    • Tanya’s dissertation title: One tick closer to a better understanding of tick physiology and how to incorporate tick biology in a classroom.
  • Tanya Josek successfully defending her Ph.D. dissertation on May 17th, 2019. (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
    • Kristen’s thesis title: Micro- and nanoscale features of insect cuticle and their impacts on wetting, friction, and optical properties.

The ABC-lab will miss both Tanya and Kristen, but we are looking forward to our continued collaboration.


Lab members have been very productive over the past few months. Various studies were published in a variety of peer-reviewed journals.

    • Latching of the click beetle (Coleoptera: Elateridae) thoracic hinge enabled by the morphology and mechanics of conformal structures. Ophelia Bolmin, Lihua Wei, Alexander Hazel, Alison C. Dunn, Aimy Wissa* and Marianne Alleyne. Journal of Experimental Biology. V222(Pt 12). pii: jeb196683. Publication Date June 17, 2019. DOI: 10.1242/jeb.196683.
      • Related:
        • Hollow peg holds key to click beetles’ explosive flips. Kathryn Knight.

    • Ultra-scalable Multifunctional Nanoengineered Copper and Aluminum for Anti-Biofouling Applications. Julian H. Reed, Andrew E. Gonsalves, Jessica K. Román, Junho Oh, Hyeongyun Cha, Catherine E. Dana, Marco A. Toc, Sungmin Hong, Jacob B. Hoffman, Juan E. Andrade, Kyoo D. Jo, Marianne Alleyne*, Nenad Miljkovic*, Donald M. Cropek*. ACS Applied Bio Materials. Publication Date May 31, 2019. DOI: 10.1021/acsabm.8b00765.

    • Bee Inspired Evaluation Algorithm Leads to Improved Decision Making in Groups. Molly Sturgis and Marianne Alleyne*. IEEE Systems Journal. Publication Date May 24, 2019. DOI: 10.1109/JSYST.2019.2914212.

Explainer: Researchers turn to bees to guide better decision-making.

Antlion Pit Competition

Marianne Alleyne will be hosting the inaugural Antlion Pit Competition at the Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America in November (2019) in St. Louis. In preparation for the event Dr. Alleyne and her collaborator and co-instructor for the Bioinspired Design Course are offering free webinars about the design process. Recordings of the webinars will be available on the ESA website.

Teaching Bioinspired Design

Marianne Alleyne attended the American Physical Society March Meeting in Boston, MA. She presented a paper entitled: “Classroom Robophysics: Methods for teaching bioinspired design“, and was a co-author on a paper presented by MechSE collaborator Prof. Aimy Wissa: “JUMP: Experiment-enabled Modeling of Click Beetle Jumps for Robotic Applications“. We would like to thank Drs Chen Li (JHU) and Dan Goldman (Georgia Tech) for organizing the interesting Robophysics symposia.

Marianne Alleyne at the 2019 APS March Meeting
Prof. Wissa presenting our click beetle work at the 2019 APS March Meeting

Science Policy

In February 2019 the Annals of the Entomological Society of America published a new special collection of articles on science policy (V112(1), 2019). Marianne Alleyne is the author on two of these articles. Get your science-advocacy energy flowing with these seven highlights from the collection.

Click Beetle Project

In February 2019 “the Click Beetle Team” published a video about their work.

The video was covered by the following news outlets.

Cicada Wing Project

  • Román et al. paper gets the cover!

Tick Project

Multi-functional Materials – Gordon Research Conference

  • Marianne Alleyne attended the Gordon Research Conference on “Multifunctional Materials and Structures: Bridging the Gap Between Biological and Synthetic Systems” in Ventura, California (January 2018). It was a wonderful experience to participate in a relatively small meeting with participants from so many different scientific disciplines, countries, and funding agencies. There is definitely interest in multifunctional materials such as insect cuticle as inspiration for synthetic materials and systems.

Click Beetle Project

Entomological Society of America Annual Meeting 2017

Click Beetle Project

Cicada Wing Project