- Ph.D. in Entomology - Penn State University
- B.S. in Biology, with honors - The College of New Jersey
The transmission and spread of insect-vectored diseases depend on complex interactions among pathogens, hosts, and vectors. Our understanding of the physiological and ecological mechanisms governing these interactions is currently limited, especially in plant disease systems, even though they are recognized to have important implications for agriculture, ecology, and human health. Vector-borne pathogens of both plants and animals often alter traits of their hosts in ways that influence the frequency and nature of interactions between hosts and insect vectors, with significant impacts on disease transmission.
Many of the key ecological interactions driving such effects are likely to be influenced by pathogen effects on host plant chemistry, yet there has been little work to date on the chemical ecology of insect-vectored plant diseases. To address the current lack of research in this area, my work examines the effects of a widespread, non-persistently transmitted plant pathogen, Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV), on aspects of host plant chemistry that influence key ecological interactions between plants, insect disease vectors (aphids), and other non-vector insects. My long-term research goal is to expand this work to examine parasite effects on host chemistry and vector behavior across populations using multiple host-parasite-vector systems to determine the evolutionary importance of chemical signals in nature.
To read more about my research, outreach, and teaching experience at Penn State, please check out my professional website using the link at the top of this page.