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Neil Vickers


Ph.D. University of California, Riverside

Graduate Program Membership:

Office/Building: ASB 360
Phone: 801-585-1930

Research Statement

We study the sense of smell (olfaction) in mosquitoes and moths. Currently our efforts are focused on understanding how these flying insects navigate towards vital resources necessary for survival and propagation (e.g. female mosquitoes to potential hosts for a blood meal; male moths to females for mating). Our research features mosquito species that pose a health threat to humans and other animals (by transmitting viruses or other pathogens) as well as agriculturally important moths. Behavioral studies in a laboratory wind tunnel and field work form the foundation for further research in the Vickers lab such as how smells are detected and processed by the insect brain. Collaborations with other scientists, mechanical engineers and mosquito control experts as well as healthcare professionals are integral and valued in our efforts.

Research Interests

General Interests
Specific Interests
  • Odor-mediated flight behaviors of insects
  • Neuroethology
  • Neurophysiology of insect olfaction
  • Evolution of pheromone production and perception in moths

Selected Publications

  • Lee SG*, Fogarty-Celestino CM*, Stagg J*, Kleineidam C*, and Vickers NJ. 2019. Moth pheromone selective projection neurons with cell bodies in the antennal lobe lateral cluster exhibit diverse morphological and neurophysiological characteristics. Journal of Comparative Neurology 527: 1443-1460.
  • Lee SG*, Poole K, Linn Jr. CE and Vickers NJ. 2016. Transplant antennae and host brain interact to shape odor perceptual space in male moths. PLoS ONE 11(1): e0147906.
  • Crespo JG*, Goller F and Vickers NJ. 2012. Pheromone induced modulation of pre-flight warm-up behavior in male moths. Journal of Experimental Biology 215: 2203-2209
  • Gould F, Estock M, Hillier NK*, Powell B, Groot AT, Ward CM, Emerson JL, Schal C, Vickers NJ. 2010. Sexual isolation of male moths explained by a single pheromone response QTL containing four receptor genes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 107:8660-8665.
  • Vickers NJ, Christensen TA, Baker TC and Hildebrand JG. 2001. Odour-plume dynamics influence the brain’s olfactory code. Nature 410: 466-470.
  • 17th Arbovirus surveillance and Mosquito Control workshop, Anastasia, FL. March 2022. Field evaluation of wind conditions and their effects on female mosquito flight activity.
  • 74th Annual Utah Mosquito Abatement Association Conference, Park City, UT. October 2022. A closer look: Field wind conditions and mosquito responses.
  • 88th American Mosquito Control Association meeting, Jacksonville, FL. March 2022. Hunting the hunters: tracking down Western tree hole mosquitoes in Salt Lake City.
  • 73rd Annual Utah Mosquito Abatement Association Conference, Park City, UT. October 2021. On the trail of Western tree hole mosquitoes, Aedes sierrensis, in Salt Lake City.
  • 87th American Mosquito Control Association meeting, virtual, March 2021. Field evaluation of atmospheric turbulence and effects on female mosquito flight activity.
  • Department of Biology, University of Cincinnati. March 2018. Interactions between insects and their sensory environment.

Courses Taught

  • Biol 3325: Comparative Physiology lab