- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
No, it's the mosquito.
Infected mosquitoes transmit diseases that account for some 750,000 deaths a year, according to a recent article in Science Alert.
The mosquito is a piece of work. Remember when several UC Davis scientists were featured in a KQED-produced science video on "How Mosquitoes Use Six Needles to Suck Your Blood?"
So when noted molecular neurobiologist Leslie Vosshall of the Rockefeller University, New York City, speaks on "Neurobiology of the World's Most Dangerous Animal" on Wednesday, May 24 at the University of California, Davis, her audience will not only learn just how dangerous the most dangerous animal is, but learn about her exciting research.
The hourlong seminar, free and open to the public, is set for 4:10 p.m. in the Student Community Center, UC Davis.
The Vosshall laboratory studies the molecular neurobiology of mosquitoes. Female mosquitoes require a blood meal to complete egg development, she explains. "In carrying out this innate behavior, mosquitoes spread dangerous infectious diseases such as malaria, dengue, Zika, Chikungunya and yellow fever."
"Some of the questions we are currently addressing are: Why are some people more attractive to mosquitoes than others? How do insect repellents work? How are multiple sensory cues integrated in the mosquito brain to elicit innate behaviors? How do female mosquitoes select a suitable body of water to lay their eggs? The long-term goal of all of our work is to understand how behaviors emerge from the integration of sensory input with internal physiological states."
The seminar is sponsored by the College of Biological Sciences and the Storer Life Sciences Endowment. Host is molecular geneticist Joanna Chiu, associate professor and vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
At the Rockefeller University, Vosshall is the Robin Chemers Neustein Professor and head of the Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior and director of the Kavli Neural Systems Institute. She is known for her work on the genetic basis of chemosensory behavior in both insects and humans.
Her notable contributions to science include the discovery of insect odorant receptors, and the clarification of general principles regarding their function, expression and the connectivity of the sensory neurons that express them to primary processing centers in the brain. She founded the Rockefeller University Smell Study in 2004 with the goal of understanding the mechanisms by which odor stimuli are converted to olfatory percepts.
Vosshall received her bachelor's degree in biochemistry from Columbia University, New York, in 1987 and her doctorate from Rockefeller University in 1993. Following postdoctoral work at Columbia University, she joined the Rockefeller faculty in 2000.
She is the recipient of the 2008 Lawrence C. Katz Prize from Duke University, the 2010 DART/NYU Biotechnology Award, and the 2011 Gill Young Investigator Award. She is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
For more information on the seminar, contact host Joanna Chiu at email@example.com.