Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology
My research focuses on multispecies interactions, and I am especially interested in answering questions about plant-insect interactions. Much of the plant and insect diversity we see today has resulted from specialized plant-herbivore interactions. Many plants have evolved fascinating defenses to protect themselves from insects that feed on them, and in turn, insects have evolved mechanisms to avoid and overcome plant defenses. My research focuses on the nature of these interactions.
I am also interested in understanding interactions between agricultural insect pests and their plant hosts, including crops genetically engineered to produce toxins that can kill insects (Bt crops), which are being increasingly utilized here in Iowa, and in much of the world. Often, a third trophic level (for example, an insect or other organism that kills insect pests) can influence interactions between an insect pest and its plant host, and I am interested in understanding the ecological interactions among these three trophic levels.