Graduate student research


Graduate research is at at the core of the Hillyer Lab.  Current graduate students have diverse projects in mosquito physiology and immunology and present their findings yearly at national and international meetings.  For a description of our research visit our “research” and “publications” webpages.

The Hillyer Lab is currently recruiting hard working and dedicated students with interests in entomology, infectious diseases, and comparative immunology/physiology.  The Hillyer Lab accepts students through the Vanderbilt Biological Sciences Graduate Program, the Vanderbilt Interdisciplinary Graduate Program, and the Vanderbilt Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity Program.  There are many advantages to enrolling in Vanderbilt’s graduate school, which include excellent faculty, state-of-the-art facilities, a broad curriculum, extensive travel funds (for attending national and international meetings) and fantastic pay, all in a vibrant city.

Currently, available projects in mosquito physiology, immunology and host-pathogen interactions include studies into cellular-mediated immune responses in the mosquito hemocoel, the genetic bases of immunity, the mechanics of hemolymph (blood) propulsion in the hemocoel, and the hormonal control of mosquito heart contractions.

Students interested in joining the Hillyer Lab are encouraged to inquire via EMAIL.  Underrepresented minorities are especially encouraged to apply.

Peer-reviewed publications authored by graduate students (names are underlined):

  1. 1) Glenn, J.D., J.G. King, and J.F. Hillyer. 2010. Structural mechanics of the mosquito heart and its function in bidirectional hemolymph transport. Journal of Experimental Biology. 213(4):541-50. (PubMed) (Download FREE)

  1. 2) Aliota, M.T., J.F. Fuchs, T.A. Rocheleau, A.K. Clark, J.F. Hillyer, C.C. Chen, and B.M. Christensen. 2010. Mosquito transcriptome profiles and filarial worm susceptibility in Armigeres subalbatus. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases. 4(4):e666. (PubMed) (Download FREE)

  1. 3) Andereck, J.W., J.G. King, and J.F. Hillyer. 2010. Contraction of the ventral abdomen potentiates extracardiac retrograde hemolymph propulsion in the mosquito hemocoel. PLoS ONE. 5(9):e12943. (PubMed(Download FREE)

  1. 4)King, J.G., K.D. Vernick, and J.F. Hillyer. 2011. Members of the salivary gland surface protein family (SGS) are major immunogenic components of mosquito saliva. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 286(47):40824-40834. (Pubmed) (Download from JBC)

  1. 5)Murdock, C.C., K.P. Paaijmans, A.S. Bell, J.G. King, J.F. Hillyer, A.F. Read and M.B. Thomas. 2012. Complex effects of temperature on mosquito immune function. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 279(1741):3357-3366. (Pubmed) (Download Free from Proc Biol Sci)

  1. 6)King, J.G., and J.F. Hillyer. 2012. Infection-induced interaction between the mosquito circulatory and immune systems. PLoS Pathogens. 8(11): e1003058. (Pubmed) (Download Free from PLoS Pathogens)

  1. 7)King, J.G., and J.F. Hillyer. 2013. Spatial and temporal in vivo analysis of circulating and sessile immune cells in mosquitoes: hemocyte mitosis following infection. BMC Biology. 11:55.  (Pubmed) (Download Free from BMC Biology)

  1. 8)League, G.P., O.C. Onuh and J.F. Hillyer. 2015. Comparative structural and functional analysis of the larval and adult dorsal vessel and its role in hemolymph circulation in the mosquito Anopheles gambiae. Journal of Experimental Biology. 218:370-80.  (PubMed) (See it in JEB) (Email me for a pdf copy)

  1. 9)Sigle, L.T. and J.F. Hillyer. 2016. Mosquito hemocytes preferentially aggregate and phagocytose pathogens in the periostial regions of the heart that experience the most hemolymph flow. Developmental and Comparative Immunology. 55:90-101. (PMID 26526332) (See it in DCI) (Email me for a pdf copy)

  1. 10) League, G.P., and J.F. Hillyer. 2016. Integration of the circulatory, immune, and respiratory systems in mosquito larvae: immunity in the hemocyte-rich tracheal tufts. BMC Biology. 14:78. (PMID 27643786) (See it for FREE in BMC Biol)

Research opportunities for Graduate students

Jonas King, a former Biological Sciences graduate student, studied hemolymph flow mechanics and cellular immunity in the mosquito hemocoel.  His work was published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, PLoS ONE, Journal of Biological Chemistry, PLoS Pathogens, and BMC Biology. Dr. King obtained his PhD in 2012. He is now an Assistant Professor at Mississipi State University.