Research in our lab is focused on two general areas. The first is the systematics of the Platygastroidea, an economically important and biologically fascinating group of parasitic wasps. The work is presently funded through a major grant from the National Science Foundation Planetary Biodiversity Inventory program and is entitled: Diversity and the parasitoid life-history strategy: the superfamily Platygastroidea (Hymenoptera). This is a multimillion dollar project that brings together a team of 13 participants from 9 countries with the goal of a comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of the superfamily, description of all of the species of a major group (the Scelionini, with over 2,000 species), and extensive field work and collecting around the world. Beyond the fundamental systematics, we're also interested in speciation and evolution in these wasps, and are trying to learn more by using nextgen sequencing techniques to understand how the wasps find their hosts, how they jump from one set of hosts to another, how they evolve from generalists to specialists (or maybe the other way around). Our second area of interest is biodiversity informatics, the collection, storage, management, analysis, and dissemination of data on the distribution of species around the world. Part of this effort involves the databasing of the C.A. Triplehorn Insect Collection.
Our work takes us to many interesting parts of the world, both to visit and study the collections in natural history museums as well as to collect fresh, new material. Our recent trips have been to Borneo, China, Korea, Canada, South Africa, Australia, Hungary, Italy, France, Belgium and more.