Jennifer O'Donnell

As manager of biological laboratories at UR and an expert on animal care, Jennifer O’Donnell oversees the care of the Spiders men's basketball team's live spider mascot, Tarrant the tarantula, as well as about a dozen other types of spiders. One of her latest additions is a black widow. O'Donnell and her students care for and study the spiders.

She loves to show off the spiders and educate people on the many valuable purposes they serve. Not only are they an important food source for birds and fish, they also keep pesky insects at bay in gardens. Their venom also is used in research for new medicines and eco-friendly pesticides. Also, designers have created new technologies and plans for architecture by studying spider webs.

“Caring for Tarrant and our other spider friends has been a rewarding experience for the biology department, for me, and for the University of Richmond community as a whole," said O’Donnell. “Spiders are fascinating creatures, and we are grateful for the opportunity to keep learning about them and sharing our love of all spiders.”

Contact Sunni Brown (sbrown5@richmond.edu), director of media and public relations, to connect with Jennifer.