Many species of arthropods have significant impacts on human life and health and therefore, my research program studies the molecular physiology of arthropods to gain fundamental knowledge that we can apply to improve human life. Specifically, my research program involves investigating the physiological role and toxicological potential of novel ion channels and transporters within the nervous system, excretory system, and salivary glands of arthropods.
1. Physiological characterization of novel proteins in the arthropod nervous system
My program has a heavy focus on mosquitoes since they are one of the most important vectors for spreading human diseases. To address the growing concern of insecticide resistance, my laboratory aims to identify future target sites for insecticides by identifying the physiological roles of newly discovered and unexplored ion channels and transporters in the nervous system of mosquitoes.
2. Physiological characterization of ion channels for tick salivary secretion
Ticks are obligate ectoparasites that are vectors of disease to both humans and animals of veterinary importance. The salivary gland is the site of osmoregulation in ticks, is critical to blood feeding, and is also the site of pathogen development. My laboratory is investigating ion conductance pathways and novel transporters that control salivary secretion, which may serve as a future target site to mitigate disease transmission.
3. Novel strategies for malaria control
The mosquito, Anopheles gambiae, is the vector of the malaria parasite and is considered to be the deadliest animal in the world. We received funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to evaluate cost-effective attract and kill strategies for controlling populations of Anopheles gambiae in Sub-Saharan Africa that will subsequently reduce the morbidity and mortality of malaria.