I am a Ph.D. candidate in the McBride lab group in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University (also affiliated with the Princeton Neuroscience Institute). I am broadly interested in the evolution of natural animal behaviours and their genetic and neural basis.
My current work centres on the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti. The ancestral "forest" form of the mosquito, found across much of sub-Saharan Africa, appears to be a generalist feeder, with no strong preference for any particular host. The recently derived "domestic" form, distributed worldwide over most of the tropics and subtropics, exhibits a striking, innate preference for feeding on humans and has thus become one of the most important vectors of human mosquito-borne disease. I am using a number of different approaches—including volatile-chemical analysis, neural-network models, and molecular genetics—to understand the evolution of olfactory receptors involved in this shift in preference. Part of this work is included in this preprint.