My work is focused on the evolutionary genetics of insect-pathogen interactions. Projects in my lab include population genomic and molecular evolutionary analysis of insect immune systems and quantitative genetic study of differences in immune performance among individuals in a population. We seek to identify the genes responsible for individual differences in resistance or susceptibility to infection and environmental factors that influence defense. We are determining how genotype and environment interact to shape defense traits, and how seemingly distinct physiological processes are genetically linked and may constrain each other. We are especially interested in the effects of dietary nutrition and metabolism, gut microbiological communities, and reproductive status on immune performance. We use molecular tools and genomic analysis in our research.
I teach two primary courses. I am the sole instructor for Ecological Genetics (Entom 4700/BioEE 4800), a 4-credit course on the evolutionary genetics of natural populations. This course has 20 students enrolled in 2011. I am one of a handful of principal instructors for Evolution and Diversity (BioEE 2780), a 4- or 5-credit course teaching fundamental principles in evolutionary biology. This course has 250-300 students per semester.
I additionally a for-credit journal club on Ecology and Evolution of Infection and Disease (Entom 6900/BioEE 6900).