Bitten: Why Do Mosquitoes Bite Some People and not Others
How are mosquitoes able to detect our presence? Leslie Vosshall, neuroscientist and head of laboratory at Rockefeller University’s Howard Hughes Medical Institute, will give an in-depth presentation on the origins and complexities of smell and its impact on behavior. Her talk will cover a range of topics from the physiology of our sense of smell to the history of perfume making, and will answer the age-old question, “why do mosquitos bite some people and not others?”
Leslie B. Vosshall is the Robin Chemers Neustein Professor and head of Rockefeller University’s Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior. The long-term goal of her laboratory is to understand how behaviors emerge from the integration of sensory input with internal physiological states. The Vosshall lab has used the fruit fly to elucidate the basic mechanisms of smell in insects, as well as to study how fly brain circuitry processes odor information. Related work in humans has used olfactory psychophysics in combination with genetic analysis to identify the first case of a genetic polymorphism correlating with a specific change in odor perception. Vosshall has recently expanded the focus of the group into mosquito biology in an effort to study what sensory cues guide human host-seeking behavior and what internal signals modulate blood feeding. The Vosshall lab has been studying the mechanisms of action of insect repellents and has used a target-based approach to develop new candidate insect repellents that have the potential to provide solutions to the public health problems caused by mosquitoes.
Vosshall received an AB in biochemistry from Columbia University and a PhD from Rockefeller University. She joined the Rockefeller faculty in 2000. She was named an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 2008 and has received several awards, including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, Duke University’s Lawrence C. Katz Prize, DART/NYU Biotechnology Award, and Gill Young Investigator Award, among others.