1. Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol addiction is a common affliction with a strong genetic component. The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster offers vast genetic resources, tools and databases in an excellent model to investigate physiological mechanisms underlying behavior. In this project we use Drosophila as a model to explore the relationship between extensive alcohol feeding and its effect on courtship behavior, female mate choice and male sperm viability (fertility).
We are currently studying the efficacy of antioxidants such as Melatonin (0.43mM) and Lipoic Acid (2.15mM) in counteracting the toxicity of Paraquat - a reactive oxygen species (ROS) generator. We have intersteing results which suggest that feeding flies Paraquat did significantly reduce fertility and sperm viability in Drosophila. We also find that feeding antioxidants such as Melatonin and Lipoic Acid, boosts fertility and sperm viability.
Here is my student Weily Lang, describing her research! This video won the first prize at the Section and Divisional rounds in the Sigma Xi Reserach Showcase (2013).
2. Insect Mating behavior
Insect mating behavior acts as a window through which to view evolution in action. From traumatic insemination in beetles to to the transfer of anti-aphrodisiac pheromones in butterflies - insects are more complex than they seem. Our bug lab is intersted in studying these male and female interactions in insects such as in the preying mantis (Tenodera sinensis) and the common fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster)
3. Ecological Immunity
Ecological immunology is a rapidly expanding field that examines the causes and consequences of variation in immune function in the context of evolution and of ecology. Our research involves the study of invertebrate innate immunity. We study the downstream effects of infections (systemic and sexually transmitted) on male and female fertility using the common fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster as a model).
4.Urban Bee Navigation
In collaboration with colleagues at Empire State College, NYC, we plan to study how honey bees (Apis mellifera) navigate an urban landscape such as New York City. This project is in collaboration with urban roof top farmers, and the Beekeeper's Association. Check this space for more information regarding this project in 2012.