Dr. Dina M. FonsecaDina_Fonseca

Director, Center for Vector Biology, Rutgers University
Professor, Department of Entomology, Rutgers University
Professor, Graduate Program in Ecology & Evolution, Rutgers University
Professor, Graduate Program in Microbiology, Rutgers University
Research Associate, Center for Conservation Genomics, Smithsonian Institution

Molecular ecologist and evolutionary biologist specializing in rapid change. Strong extension program working with everyone from mosquito control professionals to residents. Spearheaded urban mosquito control by residents through Citizen Action Through Science (Citizen AcTS). Founding member of the Worldwide Insecticide resistance Network (WIN) and of InSITe (Innovative Strategies for Invasive Species Surveillance).

Email: dina.fonseca at rutgers dot edu
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Research Associates

Dr. Rafael ValentinRafael Valentin

Rafael’s research is focused on understanding invasion dynamics at biogeographic and local scales. He addresses the influence of transport and release on post-establishment evolution; the global invasion pathways of invasive insects; and utilizing environmental DNA (eDNA) to create novel detection methods for early detection of invasive insects in terrestrial systems.

Rafael finished his PhD last Fall (2018) co-advised by Drs. Dina Fonseca and Julie Lockwood, through theDepartment of Ecology & Evolution, Rutgers University.

Email: raf.e.valentin at gmail dot com
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A Research Associate funded by the Hawaii project will join us in January 2019. 

Current Students

James Occi, MSJim Occi (1).jpg

PhD Student, Department of Entomology, Rutgers University

Jim is a recovering microbiologist and hopes to become a medical entomologist when he grows up. As a microbiologist he has worked in big pharma and now New Jersey Medical School in the search of new antibacterial entities. For his graduate work, Jim is studying Rickettsia prevalence in New Jersey’s tick populations.

Email: occijl at njms dot rutgers dot edu
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Agnesa RedereAgnesa Redere

PhD Candidate, Department of Ecology & Evolution, Rutgers University

My research interests focus on evaluating expected utility in three scenarios of ecological importance: epigenetics in changing environments, in proactive versus reactive mosquito control strategies in curtailing the spread of Zika virus, and inthe psychological concept of priming in changing environments. I use mathematical modeling and simulations to generate understanding of these concepts. Agnesa is co-advised with Dr. Nina Fefferman, a mathematician at University of Tennessee.

Email: ar837 at scarletmail dot rutgers dot edu

Melvin DelVillarMelvin DelVillar

Undergraduate Student, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers University

Melvin is a research technician in the salt marsh mosquito project with Brian and will next work on qPCR tests of container Aedes mosquitoes to evaluate the northern expansion of the Asian tiger mosquito. He is interested in the relationship between arthropod transmitted vector-borne diseases and people, and how this relationship changes over time and space. Melvin is double majoring in Entomology and Kinesiology & Health.

Email: mdd145 at scarletmail dot rutgers dot edu

Sydney GableSydney Gable

Undergraduate Student, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers University

Sydney is currently assisting Brian on the salt marsh mosquito project. Her research focus is on the rapid evolution in mosquito larvae osmoregulation in varying levels of salinity in their environment.  She is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources and hopes to continue her studies and earn a graduate degree in ecology and evolution.

Email: smg401 @ scarletmail dot rutgers dot edu

Christian SusuChristian Susu

Undergraduate Student, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers University

Christian Susu is an undergraduate student studying Animal Science: Pre-Veterinary Medicine and Research. He hopes to attend veterinary school after graduation. Christian’s research focuses on tick borne disease risks in dogs in urban settings and will conduct surveillance to analyze the importance of urban ticks.

Email: cas551 at scarletmail dot rutgers dot edu

Collaborators and Alumni

Dr. Andrea Egiziandrea-egizi-large2

Adjunct Professor, Department of Entomology Rutgers University
Research Scientist, Tick-borne Disease Laboratory, Monmouth County Mosquito Control Divison

The Tick-Borne Diseases Laboratory is located in premises associated with the Center for Vector Biology in New Brunswick allowing close and strong collaborations between Andrea and members of the Fonseca lab.

Andrea is also an Alumna of the lab. She finished her PhD in 2014.

Email: andreaegizi at rutgers dot edu
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Dr. Brian JohnsonBrian_Johnson2017

Brian works on the spatial and temporal drivers of vector-borne diseases and the development of advanced surveillance and intervention strategies.

Brian is also an alumnus of the lab. He finished is PhD in 2014. He came back briefly as a Research Associate leading a NOAA funded project examining the effects of sea level rise and mitigation approaches on salt marsh mosquito and strategies for control. Brian is now a Senior Researcher at the QIMR Berghofer, Medical Research Institute in Queensland, Australia.

Email: Brian.Johnson at


Dr. Sebastién MarcombeMarcombe

Chief Research Medical Entomologist, Institute Pasteur (Disease Vector Unit), Vientiane, Laos

Seb was a postdoc researcher from 2011-2013 integrated in the Areawide Asian tiger mosquito project. He characterized the Aedes albopictus susceptible strain (available here) and developed the first detailed insecticide resistance testing of US Ae. albopictus.

Email: s.marcombe at pasteur dot la
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Dr. Dana PriceDana_Price_1170_480

Director of the Genome Cooperative, Associate Research Professor, Department of Plant Biology, Rutgers University

Dana finished his PhD in 2015. He characterized the Doublesex gene in Culex pipiens and Cx. quinquefasciatus (and corrected the one for Aedes aegyptii). He also sequenced the comparative transcriptome of the two forms of Culex pipiens.

Email: d.price at rutgers dot edu
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Dr. Jiawu XuJiawu_Xu

Manager of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Microbiome Research, Research Scientist, Department of Anthropology, University of Oklahoma

Jiawu was a postdoc researcher from 2010-2013 integrated in the Areawide Asian tiger mosquito project.

Email: jiawuxu at ou dot edu

Prof. Nusha Keyghobadikeyghobadi2016.jpg

Associate Professor, Department of BiologyWestern University, Canada

Nusha joined the Fonseca lab in 2001. She helped manage the fledging lab and is the reason we still have a pile of XS glove boxes (!) Nusha developed many of the microsatellites used across the Culex pipiens complex project and developed research on Hawaiian Culex and Pennsylvania butterflies. 

email: nkeyghob at uwo dot ca
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