Telephone: 517-410-9247 (cell), 517-432-4577 (office)
293 Farm Lane Room 338
East Lansing, MI 48824
See a list of Eric Benbow's publications on Google Scholar.
I am a community ecologist, studying how complex communities (e.g., aquatic insects or microbes) change, are distributed and can be used in various applications in medicine, disease and environmental management. One of the largest community ecology studies related to human health has been the Human Microbiome Project that showed that much of the human body is made up of a wide diversity of prokaryotic cells and that these communities have significant importance to human health. In a related fashion within entomology, my lab asks three general questions: 1) Is insect fitness influenced by the community of microbes living in or on them? 2) What are the ecological interactions of insects with the microbial communities associated with their food resources? and 3) How can this information be used to inform resources management, human health and forensics? With a joint appointment in the College of Osteopathic Medicine, my lab seeks to answer these insect-microbe questions for translation into human health applications. Given the rich history of research in insect-microbe interactions that has focused on vectoring pathogens and co-evolved symbionts, coupled with the advanced ability to identify culturable and non-culturable bacteria using high throughput sequencing, a new generation of inquiry into the importance of the insect microbiome and their interactions in nature has tremendous potential for insect science. It is within this realm of inquiry where my students and I test explicit hypotheses at the individual, population and community levels to better understand the importance of insect-microbe interactions to the ecology and evolution of carrion, aquatic biology, forensics and disease systems. The research in my lab centers on insect–microbial interactions within three systems: carrion decomposition (and forensics), aquatic ecological networks and disease systems.
Current assignment: Teaching 30% | Research 70%
I enjoy teaching. This has been realized over a long and successful teaching career that included formal teaching assignments at MSU from 2003-2007, and the development and teaching of courses at two previous universities. Since returning to MSU in January 2014, I taught a graduate seminar course titled Insects, Disease and Natural Resources Management and gave several guest lectures. In the future, I also teach Aquatic Entomology and Insect Ecology on a rotating basis each fall semester. I plan on developing and teaching a 1-3 credit our graduate seminar course each spring, with a rotating specific topic related to the broad concept of insects, disease and the human condition and the ecology of insects, microbes and their interactions.
Since 2010, my research as been continually funded by nationally competitive grants that bring in around 50% indirect costs. The impact of the latest grant that was funded resulted in six media interviews in the fall of 2014. Publications in my lab have been published in several high profile journals including Trends in Ecology and Evolution, the Annual Review of Entomology, Scientific Reports and PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases. In addition to these publications, my lab continues to produce collaborative peer reviewed publications in excellent journals such as Animal Behavior, Freshwater Biology and Environmental Research Letters, in addition to mainstream entomological journals such as the Journal of Medical Entomology, Ecological Entomology and Environmental Entomology. My Google Scholar h-index and !10-index are 23 and 49, respectively with a total of 1894 citations and 1506 of those since 2012. The number of citations in 2016 was 341, and has been consistent for several years. These citations reflect a growing and vibrant research program that is having national and international impact. This growth has been exemplified in 2015 with the publication of two edited books that represent international efforts in basic and applied science and another book to be published in 2017. These books are titled: Forensic Entomology: International Dimensions and New Frontiers; Forensic Microbiology; and Carrion Ecology Evolution and Their Applications.