Research programs in the Department of Entomology are focused in three areas of emphasis:

The research program in Insect Molecular Biology, Physiology and Genetics is one of the three general sub-specialities represented in the Department of Entomology.  Research teams use biotechnology to study molecular virology, insect development, and the physiological and biochemical aspects of host/parasite/pathogen interactions to develop novel methods for manipulating important insect populations.  Additional research foci include chemical communication, quantitative genetics and biochemical phenomena related to insect vectors, nutrition, plant allelochemicals and natural product bioactivities.  Faculty use both pest and beneficial insect model systems to discover new information in these basic areas of science.

Areas of Specialization
  • Molecular Virology
  • Genetic Engineering of Insect Pathogens
  • Insect Immunity
  • Insect/Bacterial Symbioses
  • Physiological Basis of Chemical Communication
  • Molecular/Biochemical Insect Parasitology
  • Biochemistry of Insect-Plant Interactions
  • Mendelian and Quantitative Genetics
  • Neurophysiology
  • Molecular Neuroscience
  • Respiratory Physiology
Faculty in the Department of Entomology with Specialization in the area of Insect Molecular Biology and Physiology include:

The Department has well-equipped laboratories and state-of-the-art equipment and computing facilities to complement a broad array of studies in molecular biology and physiology.  Available equipment includes GC-MS, HPLC, Capillary Electrophoresis, SEM, TEM, Confocal and Photo microscopes, scintillation counters, ultracentrifuges, DNA sequencers, along with Oxygen and CO2 Analyzers.  Several University of Kentucky research centers and core facilities are also available for studies in insect molecular biology.

The research emphasis in Insect Behavior, Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics is one of the three general sub-specialities in the Department of Entomology.  Faculty teams are examining the chemical basis for mate and host finding in a number of systems.  Additional groups are quantifying the role of arthropod predators in forest and agricultural systems. Insect-plant interactions is one area of emphasis for a number of research programs.  Faculty are also building phylogenies using DNA sequence data and morphological characters, to provide a basis for understanding ecological and evolutionary phenomena.  An association with the multidisciplinary Center for Ecology, Evolution, and Behaviorprovides opportunities for additional interactions and breadth. 

Areas of Specialization
  • Chemical and Acoustic Communication
  • Community Ecology and Food-Web Studies
  • Evolutionary and Behavioral Genetics
  • Mating Behavior
  • Modeling
  • Predator/Prey and Insect/Plant Interactions
  • Systematics 
  • Foraging Behavior
Faculty in the Department of Entomology with Specialization in the area of Insect Behavior, Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics include:
  • Zach DeVries: Urban Pest Foraging Behavior, Insect-Insecticide Interactions
  • Stephen L. Dobson: Evolution of Insect/Bacteria Endosymbiosis
  • Julian R. Dupuis: Systematics, genomics, speciation, evolutionary biology, molecular diagnostic tools for invasive pests
  • Charles W. Fox: Evolutionary Genetics, Life History Ecology, Insect Behavior
  • Nate Haan: Trophic Interactions; Community and Landscape Ecology
  • Beryl Jones: Social Behavior, Evolution of Social Insect Castes, Behavioral Ecology
  • S. R. Palli: Diapause, Overwintering, Evolution of Nuclear Receptors
  • Lynne K. Rieske-Kinney: Herbivore/plant interactions in forest ecosystems; woody plant disturbances; trophic interactions
  • Clare Rittschoff: Social Regulation of Behavior; Pollinator Biology; Behavioral Genomics; Molecular Neuroscience; Behavioral Ecology
  • John D. Sedlacek: Population and Community Ecology of Stored-Product Insects
  • Nicholas Teets: Overwintering Biology, Physiological Ecology, Polar Arthropods
  • Thomas C. Webster: Honey Bee Pest Dynamics
  • Jen White: Ecological Consequences of Bacterial Symbionts
  • Caleb Wilson: Urban Ecology, Predator-Prey Interactions, Community Ecology, Landscape Ecology
  • Xuguo “Joe” Zhou: Behavioral Genomics and the evolution of eusociality

State-of-the-art computer, microscope, video, chromatographic and molecular equipment, along with excellent laboratory and greenhouse facilities and advanced video tracking software are available to support student research projects.  An extensive collection of preserved specimens is housed in the UK Insect Collection (UKIC). In addition, the University owns and operates thousands of acres of forests, grassland, and farmland which are available as research sites. 

Broad societal issues, including water quality, food safety, environmental pollution, sustaining biodiversity, pesticide use, and improved crop and forest production systems form the core of a third area of research focus within the Department of Entomology.  Protection of our agricultural, urban, horticultural, and forest resources from insect attack and reducing risks from insect-borne diseases require a constant search for safer, more cost-effective, and environmentally responsible means of pest management. 

Areas of Specialization

The Department of Entomology is nationally recognized for its programs in pest management.  Our work provides the basis for sound pest management programs for insect pests, weeds, and plant or animal diseases.  Areas of specialization include:

  • Integrated pest management
  • Host (Plant or Animal)/Insect Interactions
  • Enhancement of Biological Control
  • Host Resistance
  • Extension and Technology Transfer
  • Urban Entomology
  • Biodiversity 
  • Insect-Human Interactions
Faculty in the Department of Entomology, and Their Specialties, include:

The Department has well-equipped laboratories and state-of-the-art equipment, including professional pest-management equipment (e.g. sprayers, foggers, dusters, bait guns) and computing facilities to address a broad array of Pest Management and Applied Ecology problems. The University also owns and operates thousands of acres of farmland and forests which are accessible for research projects.

Contact Information

S-225 Ag Science Center Lexington, KY 40546-0091

(859) 257-7450