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Current research interests

Overall review of interests

An overall theme to my research can be best described as “Investigating the interactions between mosquito disease vectors and the changing environment”. The natural world is changing at an alarming rate due mainly to anthropogenic activities, some of which are more obvious than others. Replacement of natural habitats such as tropical and temperate forests and savanna grasslands with domestic animal rangelands, crops and exponential expansions of cities, towns and villages are more obvious. More subtle events are represented by climate change, evolving habits of people and chemicals we disperse into the environment.

Mosquitoes respond to these environmental impacts in ways that include a) changes in biodiversity, manifest by species extinctions, replacement and population expansions, b) changes in behavior to accommodate surviving in new niches for example, switches in host feeding propensities, breeding sources, resting sites and c) changes in genome structure such for example to resist insecticides and to survive longer drier climatic conditions. Dynamic changes in disease transmission cycles occur concomitantly with the mosquitoes. As mosquito biodiversity and behavior evolve so to do the diversities and intensity of transmission of wildlife, veterinary and public health pathogens change. Subtle changes in the genome of mosquitoes also affect immune status of mosquitoes so that they either become more refractory or susceptible to pathogen infections.

Under this general theme we are undertaking several projects that are described in more detail under current research interests. It will quickly become apparent that my research interests take me too many parts of Africa and Western United States. All these projects require field work to sample the mosquitoes which we then bring back for more detailed genomic and infection status studies. All field work has its joys and setbacks and so I welcome you to visit the field work photo & video gallery to see what we get up to in the field. 

Much of my work is done in collaboration with faculty and staff associated with the vector genetics lab. For a colorful summary of research interests at the Vector genetics lab visit http://wingbeats.floridamosquito.org/WingBeats/pdfs/Vol22No2.pdf.