I am a Professor in the department of Entomology and also a member of the graduate programs in Ecology and Evolution and Microbiology and Biochemistry. After being interim since October 2016, in July 2017 I became the Director of the Center for Vector Biology (CVB), a program that provides accreditation, continuing education and broadly supports the extended NJ Mosquito Control community.
My basic research involves the population genetics of invasive species and, in the case of disease vectors, how they affect epidemiological landscapes and risk estimates. I have been working on invasive Culex mosquitoes that vector bird malaria to now endangered Hawaiian honeycreeper birds since 1996. I am continuing that work, which provided insights to the epidemic of West Nile virus in the continental US, now as PI on a large collaborative NSF EEID. We, alongside co-PIs at the Smithsonian, USGS and four other universities are using NextGen genomics to understand malaria, mosquito and bird evolution.
After being the lead PI on a Rutgers-USDA-ARS cooperative agreement to develop area wide management strategies for the invasive Asian tiger mosquito (the ATM project), I developed a strong extension program working with professional mosquito control programs. Many of the findings of the ATM project were integrated into Best Practices Management Guidelines issued by the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) in 2017. In 2018 we at CVB were one of 10 hubs across the US funded by CDC to deliver Teach-the-Trainer workshops to disseminate this information.
I have spearheaded urban mosquito control by residents through Citizen Action Through Science (Citizen AcTS) and am a founding member of the Worldwide Insecticide Resistance Network (WIN). Funded by a NOAA grant to Rick Lathrop I am also examining the effects of sea level rise on salt marsh mosquito populations and funded by the NE IPM Center in2018 in collaboration with the Monmouth County Tick-borne Diseases lab located at CVB I developed a pilot program (the Tick Blitz) to provide statewide information on tick abundance and pathogen prevalence. I am a founding member of the NJ One Health team and a member of the Regional One Health Coalition (with PA, DE, MD).
I am fluent in English and Portuguese, reading and spoken Spanish and French, conversational in Italian.