My lab is interested in the evolution and development of the insect body, especially the nervous system and gland system. We are currently looking for genetic links between the two systems. Glands and sense organs are mini-organs that have been termed organules. They are made up of just a few cells so the genetic and cellular basis of their differentiation is of great interest. We study these processes in embryos, larvae and pupae of Drosophila melanogaster, a model organism for genetic studies, using techniques such as light microscopy, immunostaining, and genetic approaches.

We are also investigating the regulation of bioluminescenceby glow-worms, an unusual group of insects found in Australian caves and rain-forests. The larvae of glow-worms produce light from their malpighian tubules to attract prey to their sticky webs. We are studying the phylogenetics and population genetics of cave vs rainforest populations and how they regulate their light output.