Novel, bioinsectidal ways to control adult house flies

Insects are developing resistance to most pesticides and many of the new ones, such as the neonicotinoids, are banned because of their negative effect on pollinators. A new strategy that is being developed uses natural products or biopesticides that occur in nature and should have little or no effect on non-target organisms or the environment. These products probably have antimicrobial effects on the insect’s natural microbiome and may destroy these microbes. Maintaining a nearly constant microbiome for any organism is essential for that organism to survive.

Biosynthesis of plant natural products and their applications

Our lab is interested in unravelling how natural products are biosynthesized in various crop species and medicinal plants.

Plants produce an array of chemicals for adaptation to their ecological environment. These specialized metabolites have been adapted for use as pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals. Our research includes identification and biochemical functional characterization of the enzymes to decipher biosynthetic pathways of interest (with a focus on terpenes) and incorporation of protein engineering to understand the mechanistic basis of enzymes of interest.

The function of sleep in early childhood

Sleep protects and enhances memory in young adults. Specifically, performance changes on a range of tasks are greater following an interval with sleep relative to changes over an interval spent awake. Sleep also enhances encoding of subsequent memories. In young adults, a mid-day nap is sufficient for gaining these performance benefits. Unlike adults, mid-day naps are routine for young children. The age at which children wean from this biphasic sleep pattern is often influenced by parent and school schedules.

Using zebrafish to understand the developmental origins of disease

The Timme-Laragy lab uses the zebrafish and cell culture to understand how embryonic exposure to pollutants affects embryonic development and later-life health outcomes. We have ongoing projects examining the effects of phthalates, perfluorinated compounds, and PCBs on pancreas and liver development, and are investigating toxicant effects on later-life metabolic diseases. We anchor these morphometric and metabolic outcomes with experiments probing the antioxidant defense system and the Nrf2 signaling pathway.

Control of Programmed Cell Death During Development and Pathogenesis

Our lab discovered a new gene that encodes a novel survival protein, Acheron/LARP6, that protects terminally differentiated cells like muscles and neurons from cell death. It is also misregulated in certain cancers and functions to both protect cells from toxic insults like chemotherapy and enhance metastasis. We have found an isoform of this gene that encodes only a small portion of the protein that we believe will antagonize the action of the normal protein.

3D sea turtle digital project

The Digital Life project (see is seeking a committed undergraduate who will work 6-8 hours/week creating 3D sea turtles through the process of photogrammetry. The student will work with prior photos to create 3D models, as well as work with the team to develop new 3D models. Student must be willing to do hours of photo organizing work and to learn new photo software. Students should send a CV, a 200 word statement on why they want to join the lab, and contact info on a reference.

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