Julián F. Hillyer, Ph.D.

Dr. Hillyer received his M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison under the mentorship of Dr. Ralph M. Albrecht and Dr. Bruce M. Christensen, respectively.  He then completed a post-doctoral fellowship under the mentorship of Dr. Kenneth D. Vernick (now at Institut Pasteur) at the University of Minnesota.  In 2007 Dr. Hillyer moved to Nashville, TN where he established Vanderbilt University's mosquito immunology and physiology laboratory as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, College of Arts and Science.  In 2014, Dr. Hillyer was promoted to Associate Professor, with tenure.

Dr. Hillyer's long-term interests lie in the biology of pathogens in the mosquito hemocoel, focusing on aspects of physiology and immunology that limit systemic infections.  In this quest, the Hillyer lab employs molecular and imaging techniques in efforts to expand our understanding of the biology of mosquito hemocytes (immune blood cells), pericardial cells (nephrocytes), and hemolymph (insect blood) propulsion in the mosquito hemocoel (body cavity).  This research is expected to contribute to the development of novel pest and disease control strategies, and is of interest to vector biologists, insect physiologists, comparative immunologists, and evolutionary biologists.

In addition to research, Dr. Hillyer is committed to furthering Vanderbilt’s teaching mission.  He designed and currently teaches undergraduate courses in Introduction to Biological Sciences and in Parasitology.  Dr. Hillyer also mentors graduate and undergraduate students in the research laboratory, and is an active member of several national and international research societies.

For a list of Dr. Hillyer’s publications click HERE.


  1. Vanderbilt University Jeffrey Nordhaus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, 2011.

  2. Recognition Award in Insect Physiology, Biochemistry & Toxicology; Southeastern Branch of the Entomological Society of America, 2012.

  3. Elected to Council (governing board) of the American Society of Parasitologists, 2012-2016.

  4. American Society of Parasitologists Henry Baldwin Ward Medal, 2015.

  5. Vanderbilt University Chancellor Faculty Fellow, 2016-2018.

Invited academic seminars:

  1. Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, 3/31/2017.

  2. XXV International Congress of Entomology, Orlando, FL, 9/28/2016.

  3. Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago, IL, 9/16/2016.

  4. Annual Midwestern Conference of Parasitologists, Makanda, IL, 6/10/2016.

  5. 90th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Parasitologists, Omaha, NE, 6/28/2015.

  6. Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, West Palm Beach, FL, 1/7/2015.

  7. University of Cincinnati, Department of Biological Sciences, Cincinnati, OH, 11/24/2014.

  8. University of Pittsburgh, Department of Biological Sciences, Pittsburgh, PA, 3/3/2014.

  9. Entomology 2013, Symposium titled “The future of mosquito endocrinology”, Austin, TX, 11/10/2013.

  10. Cornell University, Department of Entomology, Ithaca, NY, 10/28/2013.

  11. Southeastern Society of Parasitologists 2013 Annual Meeting, Presidential symposium speaker, Bowling Green, KY, 4/10/2013.

  12. Meharry Medical College, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Nashville, TN, 4/4/2013.

  13. Belmont University, Department of Biology, Nashville, TN,4/2/2013.

  14. Harvard University, Harvard School of Public Health, Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases Symposium: “Towards malaria eradication: targeting the mosquito vector,” Cambridge, MA, 3/15/2013.

  15. Washington State University, Department of Entomology, Pullman, WA, 3/7/2013.

  16. XXIV International Congress of Entomology, Daegu, South Korea, 8/23/2012.

  17. University of Wisconsin-Madison, School of Veterinary Medicine Infectious Disease Symposium, Madison, WI, 6/23/2012.

  18. Workshop on Innate Immunity: From Vector Resistance to Human Disease, sponsored by Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Belo Horizonte, Brazil, 5/21/2012.

  19. International Course on Innate Immunity, sponsored by Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Belo Horizonte, Brazil, 5/19/2012.

  20. University of Georgia, Department of Entomology, Athens, GA, 2/13/2012.

  21. 60th annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Philadelphia, PA, 12/8/2011.

  22. University of New Mexico, Center for Evolutionary and Theoretical Immunology, Albuquerque, NM, 9/29/2011.

  23. National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, 5/26/2011.

  24. Western Kentucky University, Department of Biology, Bowling Green, KY, 2/4/2011.

  25. Penn State University, Department of Entomology, State College, PA, 10/22/2010.

  26. George Washington University, Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Tropical Medicine, Washington, D.C., 9/1/2010.

  27. Johns Hopkins University, Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Baltimore, MD, 3/18/2010.

  28. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Department of Entomology, Blacksburg VA, 10/15/09.

  29. Meharry Medical Center, Nashville TN, 3/13/2009.

  30. University of South Florida, Department of Global Health, Tampa FL, 2/17/2009.

Scientific Society membership and service:

  1. American Society of Parasitologists

  2. a.Student Award Committee, 2006-2008.

  3. b.Henry Baldwin Ward Medal Committee, 2008-2010.

  4. c.Nominating Committee, 2009-2010.

  5. d.Ashton Cuckler New Investigator Award Committee, 2010- 2012.

  6. e.Session Chair at Annual Meeting, 2008-2016.

  7. f.Elected to Council (governing board), 2012-2016

  8. American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

  9. a.Young Investigator Award Committee, 2009-2011.

  10. b.Session Chair at Annual Meeting, 2009-2011.

  11. Entomological Society of America

  12. a.Judge for the Student Ten-minute papers (TMP) competition, 2011.

  13. b.Session chair at the annual meeting, 2011-2016.

  14. c.Editorial board of American Entomologist, 2012-2019.

  15. Microscopy Society of America

  16. Sigma Xi

    a.  President, Vanderbilt Chapter, 2014-present.

  1. Editorial Board member:

    a.  American Entomologist

    b.  Insect Molecular Biology

    c.  Journal of Insect Physiology


About the lab director

  1. 1)Parasitology

  2. 2)Epidemiology and control of infectious diseases

About the lab director: