research team mentors

Principal Investigator
Kim A. Medley, PhD
(Conservation Biology)
Director, Tyson Research Center

Katie Westby, PhD (Biology), MSPH
Postdoctoral Research Associate, Tyson Research Center

Research focus for summer 2019

Mosquitoes have been pervasive elements of landscapes and human societies for millennia, causing severe disease outbreaks and influencing the outcomes of major conflicts. To understand how mosquitoes transmit disease, it is critical to understand their ecology and evolution—why mosquitoes and their pathogens are where they are.

Our lab is interested in how interactions between mosquito larvae and their environment (abiotic and biotic) influence the geography, abundance, and rate of parasite infection in mosquitoes from both ecological and evolutionary perspectives. We use a variety of tools to address basic and applied questions, and many of our projects combine lab- and field-based experiments.

Our projects for summer 2019 include:

  • Climate change and parasite infection in container-breeding mosquitoes

  • Urban ecology and adaptation of the invasive Asian tiger mosquito

  • Potential lethal effects of plant detritus and parasites on mosquito larvae


Fellows can expect to gain exposure to multiple aspects of the scientific process from experimental design to dissemination of results. Independent research projects are encouraged for motivated students; fellows conducting independent projects can expect to design their own study, analyze the data, and potentially publish their work in peer-reviewed journals with guidance from post-docs and faculty.

Skills learned will likely include trapping and collecting a variety of animals (including ticks and mosquitoes) in the field; identifying endo-parasites, ecto-parasites and mosquitoes in the lab; maintenance of mosquito colonies; and using mist nets and dry-ice baited traps to collect animals.

research conditions

Fellows can expect to split their time between field and lab work. The ratio will depend on the nature of independent projects that are pursued, but currently planned research will be approximately 50/50 field/lab.

Team structure and opportunities for independent research

Our summer research group will be composed of a principal investigator (PI Medley), a postdoctoral research associate (Westby), two undergraduate fellows, and two high school fellows. Our lab collaborates with the lab of Dr. Adalsteinsson, and sometimes works together on data collection on large-scale projects. Undergraduate fellows are mentored directly by postdocs on day-to-day work, and the lab meets with the PI weekly (usually in the form of a lab lunch); fellows are encouraged to meet with the PI as needed.