Research Interests

My interest in insect biology has focused on the mechanisms used by insects to regulate seasonal development and reproduction. Significant portions of the year are unsuitable for continuous development, thus most insects enter periods of dormancy (diapause) to circumvent these inimical periods. My laboratory has examined the environmental cues used by insects to monitor seasonal changes, the hormonal signals that dictate the seasonal patterns, and more recently, the gene expression patterns that regulate this developmental arrest. The low temperatures of winter present one of the most formidable challenges that the dormant, overwintering insect confronts. We have identified important roles for stress proteins (heat shock proteins) in preventing low temperature injury and retarding water loss during diapause. The model organism we have used for many of our studies is the flesh fly, but associated experiments have examined diapause mechanisms in mosquitoes and agriculturally-important moths. Recent experiments in Antarctica have begun to explore physiological adaptations that enable a midge to live in this extreme terrestrial environment. Through the years, I have also been engaged in research in Africa that is directed toward disruption of the pregnancy cycle in the tsetse fly, the vector of African sleeping sickness.

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Section 61: Animal, Nutritional, and Applied Microbial Sciences