I just came back to this forum after years away from anting and ant-keeping. In high school and through the first 3 years of college, I was a huge ant enthusiast and I frequented the old yuku forum. I'm excited to see how the hobby has blossomed during the past 8 years, and I'm especially impressed by the big community on this forum that I remember dspdrew started in 2013.
I cannot understate the lasting impact this hobby has had on my life. I have always been interested in insects, and had wanted to be an entomologist since before I learned what that word meant. My discovery of Alex Wild's work in high school really turned me on to social insects in particular. In college I even did research for a while with graduate students and professors who were interested in the behavioral ecology of social insects and spiders. After I graduated I realized I no longer wanted to attend medical school, and after some difficult transition points in my life, I decided to make studying social evolution and cooperation a paying job as a biologist. Although I study bacteria now, I still take an interest in the social behavior of insects, other animals, and even plants, and because I study bacteria that are symbiotic in insects, I still involve insects in my work in the laboratory as well. While I no longer work with ants on a regular basis, they form intimate partnerships with plants, fungi, microbes, and other ants, which means I still get to draw on my weirdly specific knowledge from time to time!
This post probably doesn't mean that I will be posting regularly anytime soon; I just wanted to drop by and say hello.