The current area of study in my lab is the biology, systematics and physiology of cicada-killer wasps. Female cicada-killers determine the sex of each egg they lay before they lay it on a paralyzed cicada and we are interested in learning the basis for the maternal male/female decision. To this end we have studied the natural history of the local population for several summers and are now trying to develop a protocol for rearing the wasps in the lab. If we are successful, we will be able to study the factors influencing the female wasp’s decision to lay male or female eggs. We are also studying the factors which cause a female wasp to chose one male over others with which to mate. I am also doing field studies on cicada killer populations in Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Texas, as well as here in Easton. At present these studies are limited to the summer season, when the wasps are available.
Since 1982 student research in my lab has been focused on the special problems of salt and water balance experienced by marine, estuarine and fresh water invertebrates, particularly crustaceans. Estuarine and freshwater crustaceans use special cells in their gills and kidneys to transport salt back into their blood to replace salts lost in the urine and by diffusion across the body surface. Although I am shifting my research interest to the project noted above, it is still possible to join me in investigating the relationships between the activity of the enzyme which powers the cellular sodium pump (sodium, potassium-ATPase) and inward ion transport in the gills and kidneys of crustaceans. In these investigations we use ion analyses (e.g.,flame photometry and electromagnetic end-point titrations), osmometry, enzyme assays and surgical manipulations to study salt and water balance.
In addition to laboratory projects, I occasionally sponsor students for library-based research projects in areas of interest to them.