Dr. Laura Duvall is one of ten scientists to receive this year’s Beckman Young Investigator Award. This award is intended to support “the most promising young faculty members in the early stages of their academic careers in the chemical and life sciences, particularly to foster the invention of methods, instruments, and materials that will open new avenues of research in science.” This year’s award offers $600,000 in funding over four years.
The Duvall lab studies the regulation of innate behavior in blood-feeding arthropods. During mating, male mosquitoes transfer signals to the female that block her from mating with other males. This ensures that he is the father of all of her offspring. These signals can also be used in competition between two species when males of one species block females from mating with males of their own species thus preventing them from successfully reproducing. The proposed research aims to identify signals transferred from the male to the female, determine which receptors they activate in the female, and ask how interspecies competition may affect these receptors. The molecules that we discover could be used to develop new ways to control mosquito populations and protect humans from mosquito-borne pathogens.
The BYI program supports projects that are “truly innovative, high-risk, and show promise for contributing to significant advances in chemistry and the life sciences.”