The Vector Biology Research Group

at Texas A&M


Mosquito Transgenesis

Our laboratory is focussed on providing tools and improving existing genetic transformation systems for vector mosquitoes. One of our approaches is the identification and incorporation of boundary elements, or insulators, into transposable element constructs to protect transgenes from position effects and positive effect variegation upon integration into the mosquito genome. An alternative approach is the development of site-specific integration systems through the use of chimeric transposases fused with highly specific DNA binding domains such that the site of integration in the mosquito genome can be controlled.

Craig Coates

Associate Professor


Molecular Biology of Tick Salivary Proteins

With a long term goal of developing sub-unit vaccines against vectors and vector-borne pathogens, the Mulenga laboratory focuses on deciphering molecular mechanisms underlying the three-way interaction cascade involving the arthropod vector, vector-borne disease pathogen, and the mammalian host. The research program seeks to identify key molecules from arthropod vectors and the vector-borne pathogens that allow for evasion of mammalian host defenses. Identified molecules will be characterized and assessed for their suitability as candidate antigens for development of vaccines against vectors and vector-borne disease agents.

Albert Mulenga

Associate Professor


Pete Teel



Michel Slotman

Associate Professor


Cecilia Tamborindeguy

Associate Professor


Aaron Tarone

Assistant Professor


Jeff Tomberlin

Associate Professor


Mosquito Physiology and Toxicology

Identification and molecular characterization of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) and channels from important arthropod pests: mosquito, tick and fire ants. Molecular understanding of the effector proteins that function to regulate diuresis or water movement in insects. The identification/ functional characterization of these proteins could be exploited for pesticide discovery. For production agriculture, we focused on insecticide resistance monitoring for cotton pests; for boll weevil we monitored for resistance to malathion in support of the multi-million dollar Boll Weevil Eradication Program

Evolutionary Genetics of Mosquitoes

The Slotman Laboratory focusses primarily on the evolutionary and population genetics of malaria transmitting mosquitoes. Current projects are investigating the genetic basis of host preference of Anopheles gambiae; the population structure of Anopheles melas; the impact of malaria control on the effective population size of mosquitoes; and the evolution of behavioral resistance against insecticides. We are also investigating the regulation olfaction genes during host seeking of Aedes aegypti, mosquitoes. Finally, we are involved in the entomological monitoring component of the Bioko Island Malaria Control Project.

Plant-Vector-Pathogen Interactions

The Tamborindeguy Laboratory studies transmission of plant pathogens by insects. Research is aimed at understanding ecological and molecular aspects of plant-insect-pathogen interactions. Current projects involve study of effect of pathogen titers on transmission and on vector and plant fitness; effect of plant induced defenses on herbivorous insect, their endosymbionts and pathogen transmission.

Blow Fly Genetics and Genomics

Blow flies develop on decomposing materials and transmit over 100 human pathogens.  The Tarone Laboratory collaborates with the Tomberlin Laboratory to understand the molecular biology, evolutionary ecology, population genetics, and genomics of interactions between microbes and blow flies. The Tarone lab is currently also assisting colleagues at Yale University in the annotation of the tsetse fly genome.

Tick Biology and Ecology

Biology, ecology and management of ticks effecting humans, livestock, companion animals, and wildlife. Recent PhD students include a member of the department of defense and a member of the army.

Behavioral Ecology: Blowfly-Microbe Interaction

Blow flies develop on decomposing materials and transmit over 100 human pathogens. The Tomberlin Laboratory collaborates with the Tarone Lab examining the interactions between microbes and blow flies competing for these resources and the role these flies play in transporting these microbes into surrounding communities.

Tawni Crippen

Research Microbiologist


Adj. Assistant Professor

Veterinary Pathobiology


Gabe Hamer




Sarah Hamer

Assistant Professor

Veterinary Integrative Biosciences

Vector-Borne Disease Ecology

The Hamer Laboratory focuses on the ecology of vector-borne disease transmission.  Using a multi-disciplinary approach, we seek to understand the mechanisms across space and time that facilitate the maintenance and amplification of vector-borne disease agents.  Current projects include the eco-epidemiology of West Nile virus, the interactions of co-circulating parasites, and the application of stable isotopes to the study of vector biology and vector-host interactions.

Ecology and Epidemiology of Vector-borne Zoonotic Diseases

Sarah Hamer is a veterinary ecologist who studies emerging vector-borne diseases at the interface of domestic animal, wildlife, and human health.  The Hamer Laboratory combines field and molecular approaches to understand how pathogens are maintained in nature.  We aim to identify aspects of enzootic cycles that can be targeted to reduce disease risk.  Currently we study tick-borne diseases, wild birds as dispersers of vectors and pathogens, and Chagas disease in the southern United States.

Avian Genetics and Functional Genomics

The main focus of our lab is to address fundamental questions relevant to evolution, genetics and conservation of both domesticated and wild bird species. Research projects in our lab utilize field and experimental studies coupled with genomic and computational tools to illuminate the genetic basis of quantitative traits, functional aspects of communicable and vector borne diseases, innate immunity and population genetics of avian and non-avian taxa. The broader implications of our research includes the generation of knowledge and innovative tools for improving animal, human and environmental health. 

Foodborne Pathogen Transmission

The Crippen lab investigates the temporal and spatial movement of foodborne bacterial pathogens by insects within food animal production facilities. The Crippen Lab also collaborates with the Tomberlin and Tarone Labs examining the interactions between microbes and flies utilizing decomposing resources and the subsequent influence on insect behavior, genetics, and dispersal of microbes into the surrounding environment.

Giridhar Athrey

Assistant Professor

Poultry Science