Professor, Arizona State University
Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania (1998)
B.S. College of New Jersey (1992)
I am an evolutionary biologist who has worked closely with Robbie Wilson and his students for more than a decade. When I first met Robbie, both of us were studying how animals adapt to changing temperatures. We still work on this problem, but we've spread out to cover other evolutionary problems as well.
Our collaboration works because we complement each other. I force Robbie to use mathematical models to guide his experiments. In return, he forces me to think outside the box and pursue risky ideas. Plus I can hang out in Australia whenever I want. In my opinion, Robbie gets the short end of the stick, but he seems okay with the arrangement.
Currently, we are using a cost-benefit approach to understand why animals lie to each another. This work started with the discovery that crayfish bluff their competitors with large claws that appear strong but are actually quite weak. Robbie and I modeled the relationships among morphology, performance, and dominance to detect widespread deception in these animals. We also considered the evolutionary mechanisms that promote deception. Now, we are applying the same approach to explain why people lie, such as when soccer players try to deceive goalkeepers through misdirection or when men try to deceive women through overconfidence.
Sometimes I can't tell where my professional life ends and my personal life begins. I love traveling the world, meeting new people, and telling good stories—all of which are a big part of my job. When I am not engaged in these activities, I enjoy backpacking with my son, watching mind-bending films, and smoking a good cigar while thinking way too hard about the meaning of life.
Prates, I., M. J. Angilletta, R. S. Wilson, A. C. Niehaus, and C. A. Navas. 2013. Poor hydration reduced the locomotor performance of toads (Rhinella granulosa) from mesic and xeric environments. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 86: 451-457.
Angilletta, M. J. and R. S. Wilson. 2012. Cryptic asymmetry: unreliable signals mask asymmetric performance of crayfish weapons. Biology Letters 8: 551-553.
Niehaus, A. C.2, M. J. Angilletta, M. W. Sears, C. E. Franklin and R. S. Wilson. 2012. Predicting the physiological performance of anurans in fluctuating thermal environments. Journal of Experimental Biology 215: 694-701.
Bywater, C. L.2, M. J. Angilletta, and R. S. Wilson. 2008. Weapon size is a reliable indicator of strength and social dominance in female slender crayfish (Cherax dispar). Functional Ecology 22: 311-316.
Angilletta, M. J., T. C. Roth, R. S. Wilson, A. C. Niehaus, and P. L. Ribeiro. 2008. The fast and the fractalous: speed and tortuosity trade off in running ants. Functional Ecology 22: 78-83.
Angilletta, M. J., R. S. Wilson, A. C. Niehaus, M. W. Sears, C. A. Navas, and P. L. Ribeiro. 2007. Urban physiology: city ants possess high heat tolerance. PLoS ONE 2: e258.
Wilson, R. S., M. J. Angilletta, R. S. James, C. A. Navas, and F. Seebacher. 2007. Dishonest signals of strength in male slender crayfish (Cherax dispar) during agonistic encounters. The American Naturalist 170: 284-291.