- Research Program Mentor
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Neuroscience, Entomology, Sensory/Chemical Ecology, Animal Biology and Behavior, Philosophy of Science
Natural and Safe Insect Repellents
While ants play an important role in our ecosystems, they can be a real nuisance when they are uninvited visitors in our home. There are numerous insect repellents out there that are often toxic to both bugs and humans, which we probably shouldn't be using in our homes. However, there are less harmful chemicals that ants dislike which can be used to ward them off. This project would involve researching what chemicals act as safe deterrents out of standard household materials, mixing these together, and conducting an experiment at home to determine which ones work and at which ratios. Students would refine their skills in reading scientific articles, developing hypotheses, designing experiments to test those hypotheses, deriving conclusions using scientific reasoning, and writing up a report in the format of a scientific article. They would also learn about how ants sense and interact with chemicals in the environment and decentralized social organization.
How insects navigate in the environment
How do cockroaches navigate in the environment, particularly when they are most activate at night? One of the ways that cockroaches can detect obstacles or chemicals is via electrical stimulation of the antennae. The antenna hosts a variety of neurons involved in chemical and mechanical sensation which use electricity to send information to the brain, much like humans do. This project will involve performing a light surgery on a cockroach and implanting electrodes so that you can stimulate the sensory system and see how it corresponds to behavior.