Participating Faculty

Zach Adelman
Dr. Zach Adelman in front of Heep CenterResearch in Dr. Adelman’s laboratory focuses on the genetics of the mosquito Aedes aegypti and related Aedes species. In very broad terms, we seek to understand how these mosquitoes are able to do all of the things they do to survive and serve as such good vectors of viral pathogens, and on using that knowledge to interrupt the transmission of these disease-causing viruses. A unifying theme of his research program is the use of reverse genetic tools such as CRISPR/Cas9 to query a range of important physiological systems in Ae. aegypti. In addition to gene editing, members of my lab routinely use transcriptomics, proteomics, bioinformatics, virological, entomological and traditional molecular biological techniques to address critical questions in vector biology.

Julio BernalJulio Bernal
Dr. Bernal’s research focuses on ecology of insect natural enemies and plant defenses. He has hosted six undergraduate student researchers, with whom he co-authored at least five papers. Student researchers would lead research projects focused on effects of plant herbivore defenses on a variety of insects.

 

Adela Chavez
Dr. Chavez is studying how intracellular bacteria modify tick derived extracellular vesicles to facilitate their establishment at the skin site. Using immunological, microbiological, and molecular techniques, her objective is to understand the molecular and cellular interactions that occur at the first site of pathogen invasion during tick-borne pathogen infection. Her lab is currently recruiting a student interested in working with diseases affecting cattle, to describe signaling events occurring in the skin of cow during transmission of the bovine pathogen Anaplasma marginale. The student will assist a Ph.D. student currently working in the project.

 

Micky Eubanks
Dr. Eubanks’ research focuses on herbivory, predation, and mutualisms. He has mentored more than 40 undergraduate researchers, including 12 NSF REU students, coauthored six papers with undergraduates [e.g., 7, 27, 28], who have presented research at 10 national meetings and won 1st- and 2nd-prize awards for best undergraduate presentations. Research projects would focus on mechanisms and effects of indirect defense (via natural enemies) in crop plants.

 

Henry Fadamiro

Dr. Henry Fadamiro portrait standing in front of a windowDr. Fadamiro’s research focuses on the fundamental and applied aspects of insect behavior, chemical ecology, neurobiology, and pest management. His laboratory employs a multidisciplinary approach to tackle fundamental questions related to insect neurobiology and mechanisms of plant-insects and tritrophic interactions and their applications in developing novel and environmentally friendly pest management strategies against insect pests. An ongoing project in his lab focuses on understanding of how complex odor blends are processed in the insect brain, using parasitic wasps (parasitoids) as research models. Another research project aims to better understand the molecular and biochemical mechanisms by which beneficial microorganisms, such as plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR), promote plant growth and enhance plant defenses against insect pests and pathogens. His research has been funded by various external funding agencies including National Science Foundation (NSF), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Foundations, and the Agrochemical Industry. Student researchers will work on research projects focused on plant-insect interactions, integrated pest management (IPM), and biological control.

Gabriel Hamer
Gabe Hamer photo of himselfDr. Hamer’s research broadly investigates the ecology of infectious diseases of humans, wild animals, and domestic animals, with particular attention to those transmitted by mosquitoes, ticks, and kissing bugs.  His program is funded by several sponsors including NIH, CDC, and DHS. Research in the Hamer Lab have focused primarily on vector-host interactions that lead to parasite amplification and increased disease risk. We utilize multidisciplinary tools to studying these complex disease systems, including molecular biology, landscape epidemiology, eco-immunology, and ecological modeling. A goal of our research is to elucidate mechanisms of transmission across space and time that facilitate ecological management of diseases with effective intervention and preventative strategies.

 

Dr. Anjel HelmsAnjel Helms
Dr. Helms’ research focuses on the chemical ecology of plant-insect and predator-prey interactions. She has mentored nine undergraduate researchers and co-authored three papers with undergraduates. Five students have presented their research at local and national meetings, with two winning awards for their presentations. Research projects would focus on chemically mediatedinteractions among plants, herbivores, and natural enemies.

 

Spencer Johnston
Dr. Johnston mentors two or three undergraduate researchers every semester,and yearly four of those researchers appear as authors on research papers, on average. His undergraduate researchers present their work at one national or international meeting yearly, as well as at local meetings. Participating students would quickly become proficient in flow cytometric analysis and produce publication-quality work for high impact genomic projects.

 

Raul Medina
Dr. Medina’s research focuses on evolutionary ecology and agroecosystems. He has hosted 21 undergraduate researchers, with whom he co-authored four peer-reviewed publications, and except for two, all presented their research at the Ecological Society of America or at the Entomological Society of America annual meetings. One of them won 1st prize award for best undergraduate presentation.

 

Patricia Pietrantonio
Dr. Pietrantonio is a Sloan Foundation Mentor, and researches G protein coupled receptors in arthropods. She has mentored four NSF REU students, and published two papers with undergraduate coauthors, and submitted another; those students have presented papers at three national meetings. Students projects would focus on expression of GPCRs in insects (qPCR, localization with fluorescence probes), or perform functional fluorescence assays.

 

Juliana Rangel
Dr. Rangel’s research focuses on biotic and abiotic factors affecting honeybee colonies. She has mentored ca. 30 undergraduates, including several from underrepresented groups, five NSF REU, and four TAMU Undergraduate Scholars. Several have won 1st and 2nd places for their presentations at science conferences, including the Entomological Society of America annual meeting, and six have co-authored publications. Students would research the behavioral ecology of feral honeybees, and effects of pesticides and pathogens on colony health.

 

Cecilia Tamborindeguy
Dr. Tamborindeguy’s research focuses on the transmission of plant pathogens by insects. She has mentored 20 undergraduate researchers, including four NSF REU students, who have presented research at five national and one international meeting, and won 1st- and 2nd-prize awards for best undergraduate presentations. Research projects would focus on the interaction among insects, pathogens and plants.

 

Aaron Tarone
Dr. Tarone’s research focuses on the biology of forensically important flies and Drosophila species. Past mentees have co-authored papers in various journals, and presented papers at the Entomological Society of America, American Academy of Forensic Sciences, and North American Forensic Entomology Association meetings. Student projects would address thermal biology, genome size, or forensics research.

 

 

Keyan Zhu-Salzman portrait pictureKeyan Zhu-Salzman
Dr. Zhu-Salzman’s research focuses on molecular insect-plant interactions. She has hosted approximately 2 undergraduate students yearly for the past several years, co-hosted an NSF REU student, and has one student co-authored publication. Available projects would focus on screening resistant cowpea lines for aphid resistance, including determination of relevant secondary metabolites, and effects of electron beam on psyllid vectors of plant diseases.

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