Areas of Expertise:
mosquito ecology, virology, molecular biology
Culex mosquitoes, bacteria, arthropod-borne viruses
Recently there has been a lot of excitement surrounding the study of microorganisms that live inside us and how they influence our health. Insects also have relationships with their own microorganisms, but most research surrounding them has merely been descriptive. Medically important insects (like mosquitoes) vary in their ability to transmit pathogens, possibly due to differences between internal environments of those insects. Studies have found that mosquito bacteria abundance and diversity may impact malaria parasites. However, the identity, function and utility of those microbes are virtually unknown, especially in mosquitoes that transmit viruses.
I am investigating how bacteria within the mosquito interact with viruses they ingest in a blood meal to better understand basic mosquito biology and how it can affect disease distribution. This research will provide the building blocks for novel ways we can control mosquitoes or the diseases they transmit.