288 Farm Lane Room 345
East Lansing, MI 48824
My professional interests have centered on insect nutritional ecology and microbial interactions and I like to think that our research program has led the way in defining microbial interactions with larval mosquitoes. We have hopefully influenced the approach to studies of container breeding mosquitoes by others and have described several potential new venues for disrupting mosquito growth and reducing disease vector populations. In addition to suggesting new means for mosquito or vector borne pathogen control, our work here supports undergraduate and graduate students, as well as post-doctoral research associates who may ultimately serve to address mosquito-borne disease issues in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world. From a purely fundamental standpoint, investigations into insect-microbe interactions and the interface between insect ecology and microbial ecology are simply rich and diverse areas for study – fascinating on their own, but often critical in understanding how insects fit into particular ecosystems. I feel fortunate in being able to work in such an interesting, important, and growing area of scientific research, and for the opportunity to interact with remarkable colleagues and students along the way.
Current assignment: Teaching 15% | Research 85%
I’ve been involved in the development and teaching of several successful new courses at MSU. Biomonitoring of Streams and Rivers is an intense, field-oriented course designed to give students experience in methods for assessing wadeable streams, with heavy emphasis on macroinvertebrate biology. I’ve helped develop and co-teach Medical Entomology, which is a lecture and lab course designed to cover diseases transmitted by arthropods, their control, and the taxonomy and ecology of the vectors. I developed and co-teach Field Ecology of Arthropod Disease Vectors, a relatively new course that emphasizes field and lab methods used to monitor vectors and vector borne disease in Michigan. I have also taught graduate seminar classes in the areas of Insect-Microbe Interactions and the Invertebrate Microbiome, as well as Current Topics in Entomology. Additionally, I routinely offer special research opportunities (ENT 401) for interested undergraduate students. Finally, I have supervised several successful MS and PhD students, and served on the advisory committees of at least 15 other MS or PhD students since 2010.
My research efforts, in association with Dr. Ned Walker, are directed toward understanding critical interactions between larval mosquitoes and microbial food sources, as these influence mosquito population dynamics and disease transmission. We have examined key functional aspects of a model bacterial species found in larval habitats, and conducted studies examining the growth and development of larvae reared with specific microbial food resources. Currently, we are examining the dual role of ciliate protists as competitors with and food sources for mosquito larvae. Additionally, we examine the effects of different allocthonous nutrient inputs, such as soluble and particulate nitrogen, into larval habitats by using stable isotope techniques and measuring uptake and partitioning in mosquito tissue. I’ve also continued to examine the biology of the invasive species, Ae. japonicus, as it has now integrated into the mosquito fauna of Michigan. This species, originally from northeastern Asia, can displace native mosquito species in some larval habitats and thus may influence local disease transmission potential. Additionally, my research program examines the prevalence of arboviruses found in Michigan mosquitoes, such as West Nile virus, La Crosse Encephalitis, and Eastern Equine Encephalitis. I’ve recently become part of the Upper Midwestern Center for Excellence in Vector-Borne Disease and will be expanding mosquito and disease surveillance activities in Michigan and surrounding states.
I no longer have an Extension appointment, but have continued to conduct “Extension-like” activities in that I work with Michigan (and other states) mosquito control districts in an advisory capacity and by running analyses of mosquitoes for arboviruses. I am an active member in the Michigan Mosquito Control Assoc., having served as President in 2012. I am also a liaison between MSU and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on issues of Medical Entomology. I am currently (2017) president of the national/international Society for Vector Ecology (SOVE).