Phylogenetic systematics of Hymenoptera, particularly parasitic wasps in the family Braconidae, evolution of insects, evolution of genomes, understanding patterns of biodiversity, integrated pest management, and biocontrol.
I have a broad research focus, integrating biology, morphology, phylogenetics, and genomics to examine the evolution of parasitic Hymenoptera. My research focuses on one of the most diverse and fascinating insect lineages – Ichneumonoidea. I am interested in the evolution of morphological variation and life history strategies of Ichneumonoidea over macroevolutionary timescales and how this has led to differential patterns of biodiversity. Most of my research focuses on Braconidae. Braconid parasitoids are extremely diverse (more than 19,000 escribed species) and fascinating organisms that attack a wide variety of insect groups, including many pest insects. I work on diverse areas related to parasitic wasps, including: delimiting cryptic species and describing new species, assessing biodiversity and understanding the evolutionary processes involved with the genesis of that biodiversity. My phylogenomics research has led me to pursue questions in comparative molecular evolution, particularly the evolution of introns within Hymenoptera and insects in general. Additionally, I am in the process of developing informatics tools to augment my research, including pipelines for predicting intron locations in non-model organisms, and modern tools to bring biodiversity information to the public sector. Additionally, I have worked on several biological control projects using parasitic wasps for the control of pest insects, as part of a holistic approach to sustainable pest management in agriculture and forestry. To that end I have developed mobile applications to facilitate integrated pest management and accurate identification of pest and beneficial insects in cropping systems.
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