Assistant Professor, Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia
Ben received a BS in Biology from the California Institute of Technology in 2004 and completed his PhD in the Neurobiology and Behavior program at Columbia University in the laboratory of Wes Grueber. His graduate work focused on the phenomenon of ‘self-avoidance’ during the development of sensory neuron dendritic arbors in Drosophila melanogaster and the role of stochastic alternative splicing of the Dscam1 gene in generating unique cell-surface identities. He then completed his postdoctoral training with Leslie Vosshall at Rockefeller University/HHMI, where he focused on the genetics, genomics, and behaviour of the mosquito Aedes aegypti, a deadly vector of arbivoral pathogens that cause Zika, Dengue fever, Yellow fever, and Chikungunya. He is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Zoology at the University of British Columbia, where he runs a research group dedicated to understanding the genes and neural circuits underlying sensory specialization in mosquitoes and beyond.
Mosquitoes are the deadliest animals on the planet, driven in large part by chemosensory specializations that allow female mosquitoes to find and bite human hosts and to utilize aquatic breeding sites associated with human habitation. With techniques that bridge neuroscience, genetics, and genomics, the lab seeks to understand the molecules and circuits that drive these specialized chemosensory behaviours and, more broadly, to understand how evolution acts on the nervous system of mosquitoes and other insects to enable specialized behaviours such as blood-feeding.
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