The emergence of new pathogens, from tick-borne veterinary threats like Cytauxzoon felis to Zika virus, highlight the necessity of an integrated approach to understanding the global diversity of parasites and associated organisms. As such, the Soghigian Lab's research interests are in the processes that have shaped contemporary diversity, distribution, and abundance of parasites and hematophagous insects. Most often, we use Diptera (flies) - and sometimes their associated organisms - for this work, because of their interesting biology, the veterinary and public health importance of many clades, and the possibility for good taxonomic sampling due to interest in their abundance, e.g. for livestock pest monitoring efforts or vector surveillance.
At present, our research has three main focal areas, but we are always interested in new questions and areas of research and the highlights below are far from all-inclusive.
We are interested in the causes and consequences of population-level genetic diversity. We investigate population structure using genomic tools and methods, typically focusing on invasive species, such as some Aedes mosquitoes, as well as important veterinary pests like Lucilia species.
Macroevolution and Genomic Architecture of Phenotypes
We are interested in understanding processes that lead to the formation of the biological diversity in parasitic organisms and hematophagous insects. From comparative genomics to phylogenetic comparative methods, we leverage species histories and genomic data to understand associations between parasites and hosts, shifts in important phenotypes, and other evolutionary transitions.
Systematics and Phylogenomics
Understanding species history is key to understanding the biological diversity we see today. As such, we use modern bioinformatics and phylogenomic methods to describe evolutionary relationships between and among lineages of problematic insects, and their benign or beneficial relatives.