Chemical Sensing of Disease Vector Mosquitoes

PI: Dr. Jeff Riffell

Start-Up Company Name: Identifying novel attractants and repellents for disease vector mosquito

Lab/Project Website:

Work Location: Life Sciences Building 3rd floor (Room 324)

Work Hours: Flexible, up to 40 hours a week as desired by intern / program.

Overall Program Goal: The goal of this project is to identify novel attractants and repellents for mosquito larvae and adults across several species of disease vector mosquitoes. This work may lead to the development of new forms of mosquito control interventions. We have already developed a method for investigating chemical preference in Aedes aegypti mosquito larvae and adults, and we have collected extensive data on this one species. The next key steps are to extend our work toward other species of mosquitoes, with the hope of identifying commonalities across species that can lead to broadly effective disease vector control.

Intern Project Description and Responsibilities: The intern will work on an existing project with the goal of identifying chemical attractants and repellents for different species of mosquitoes. The student will learn about the ecology of disease vector mosquitoes, and work with the lab researcher to formulate hypotheses about specific chemicals and mosquito species. The intern will then test these hypotheses using behavioral experiments and computer vision data analysis techniques.

Pre-requisites: No specific prior training necessary, but must be willing to learn laboratory techniques (safety principles, personal protective equipment, reproducible research and record-keeping).

Level of Independence: The student will be working with a well-structured experimental protocol that has been developed over the past three years. After initial training the student should be able to independently design and conduct experiments using these methods. The intern will regularly work with Eleanor Lutz, a 4th year PhD student in the Riffell lab, as well hold meetings with the Dr. Riffell and Eleanor Lutz.

Learning Opportunities:

  • Wet lab techniques including insect handling, mixing solutions, safety
  • Ability to design and carry out experiments to answer specific research questions
  • Data processing for machine vision software, introductory programming (and/or more advanced programming techniques depending on student interest and prior knowledge).