Areas of Expertise:
Insect olfaction and taste, Glia-neuron biology, Electrophysiology, Genetics, neurobiology
For any animal, learning about food is an important mechanism that provide
animals flexibility in food choices for better survival, hence, it is extremely important to understand how the taste information is represented in the brain.I am interested in understanding how insects make the feeding decisions. This involves identifying neuronal taste circuits in the brain downstream of gustatory sensory neurons that influence feeding behaviors. Physiological state and other factors can act on the gustatory cells and circuits and can modulate taste signals,
but these are not well understood in insects. Using Drosophila melanogaster, I will explore into these mechanisms for greater understanding of peripheral and central taste coding.
Disease-carrying and crop destroying insects use their senses of taste and smell to find hosts and food. Insect-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue fever and Chikungunya are transmitted via feeding behaviors. I am hoping that the results from Drosophila could be potentially applied to safe and cost effective insect pest control by improving insect trapping strategies and thus reduce pathogen transmission by insects that impact human health and greatly benefit the agricultural industry and therefore society as a whole.