Teaching

Dr. Fonseca teaches courses in the Department of Entomology and the Entomology Graduate Program that are also accredited in the Ecology & Evolution Graduate program and the School of Public Health (former UMDNJ). She also teaches invited classes within the Rutgers Environmental Stewards program. To download a PDF of the 3 hour lecture please click here.

Case Studies in Vector Borne Diseases

(CSI – Vector Borne) 16:370:501:01 (3 credits)

This is the graduate version of Medical and Veterinary Entomology and will involve discussions and presentations by the graduate students. The course syllabus is here

This course will expose graduate students to basic ecological and evolutionary principles underlying the current upsurge of infectious diseases, especially those transmitted by insect vectors (such as malaria, dengue, Lyme disease, and West Nile virus). A common sense argument is that such knowledge, if obtained using teaching strategies that emphasize and demonstrate its usefulness will lead to more informed and effective Public Health in the US. Both fortunately and unfortunately considering the millions that have suffered, this field is rife with “teachable moments and events”. A major challenge is to go beyond the unavoidable mock disbelief, condescending smile, and/or feelings of despondency and develop actionable knowledge.

My aim is to demonstrate how to break a problem into small steps, know to expect interactions between variables, know some basic un-intuitive principles of ecology and evolution to start addressing a public health problem.

(Fall semester) Thursdays 5:35-8:35 (Thompson 102)

Medical and Veterinary Entomology

11:370:406 (3 credits)

This is the undergraduate version of CSI-Vector Borne. The course syllabus is here

Pathogens transmitted by mosquitoes and ticks  (such as West Nile virus, Lyme Disease and Zika) cause considerable human and animal suffering and death worldwide. Historically, other vector-borne pathogens such as the plague bacillus, epidemic typhus, malaria and yellow fever were epidemic in the US. This course will cover the latest developments in integrated pest and vector-borne disease control while providing a thorough overview of the pathogens, the vectors and well as other ways in which insects and arachnids can affect us, our companion animals and our livestock. This is a good course for students interested in vector biology, animal science or careers in medical or veterinary medicine.

(Fall semester) Thursdays 5:35-8:35 (Thompson 102)

Molecular Tools in Entomology, Ecology, and Epidemiology 16:370:410:01 (4 credits)

The course syllabus is here

This course aims to provide students with hands-on experience in basic molecular biology strategies: DNA extraction, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), quantitative PCR, primer design and optimization, DNA blocking strategies, cloning, Sanger sequencing, Fragment sizing, NextGeneration sequencing (on a miSeq from Illumina, available in the lab). Max of 10 students each year. Once the students are familiar and comfortable with the advantages and disadvantages of these basic tools I will expose them to specific questions in Entomology, Ecology, and Epidemiology such as

  1. Cryptic species identification (including parasites and endosymbionts);
  2. Selective mutations (eg. associated with the origin and spread of insecticide resistance);
  3. Epidemiological sleuthing (blood meal analysis, gut microbiota);
  4. Origin and spread of invasive species;
  5. Genetic modification for pest or disease control.

A third of the course will be devoted to providing a working knowledge of analysis methods such as probability theory and population genetics. This course, however, will not substitute for the actual courses of Statistics or Population Genetics but instead should be viewed as an incentive for the students to take those courses.

(Spring Semester) Dates and time to be determined, based on need.