I was trained as an organic chemist, with a focus on insect semiochemistry and chemical ecology. Thus, many but not all of the research projects within my group contain some aspect of chemistry. Generally, research within my group focuses on the study of natural chemicals that mediate interactions between organisms. We study both insect-produced chemicals such as sex or aggregation pheromones, and chemical signals and cues from hosts or habitats, such as the chemicals that insects use to locate and recognize their preferred feeding and egg-laying sites. Our research makes use of a broad range of techniques, ranging from basic field observations and bioassays of insects in their natural habitats through to the state-of-the-art analytical chemistry techniques needed to identify the structures of new natural chemicals. The identifications are made more challenging by the small amounts of material that are available from natural sources. We also synthesize newly discovered pheromone and kairomone structures, both to confirm identifications and to provide sufficient material for field tests. Because our work focuses on gaining a better knowledge and understanding of chemical signaling in insects overall, we have worked with a wide variety of insects, including beetles, true bugs, mealybugs and scales, moths, flies, mosquitoes, psyllids, ants, bees, and parasitic wasps. Also, as part of long-term projects with various insect species, we have digressed into areas as diverse as biological control of exotic pests of eucalyptus, and vibrational signaling in true bugs and other insects. Our research has two long-term objectives seen below.
CHEMICAL SIGNALS AND INSECT BEHAVIOR
We want to gain insight into the role of chemical and other types of signals as mediators of insect behavior, and develop a better understanding of how complex natural systems work.
APPLIED CHEMICAL ECOLOGY
We want to develop practical applications for pheromones, kairomones, and other behavior-modifying chemicals, for integration into pest management programs.
University of California, Riverside
Department of Entomology
3401 Watkins Dr.
Riverside, CA 92521