Meg Younger

Assistant Professor of Biology

  • Title Assistant Professor of Biology
  • Education B.S. New York University
    Ph.D. University of California, San Francisco

The Younger lab studies olfaction in mosquitoes. The primary focus of the lab is to learn about how mosquitoes detect and encode human odor and how this drives their search for a human to bite. Mosquito-borne diseases affect millions of people worldwide and claim more than half a million lives each year. Only female mosquitoes bite, and they do so because they require a blood-meal for reproduction. Female mosquitoes rely heavily on human-derived chemosensory cues as they search for a blood meal and understanding how mosquitoes detect and encode human odor would provide a major inroad to preventing mosquito biting behavior and disease transmission.

The central approach of the Younger lab is to combine neurophysiology, anatomy, genetics, and behavior in order to understand the principles of olfaction across mosquito species. The Younger lab develops and uses a combination of modern neuroscience approaches newly developed for use in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes to study olfaction. We develop and use CRISPR-based gene editing approaches to label different neuron types, complemented by functional imaging and electrophysiology during precise odor delivery and quantification. Our approach enables us to combine function with anatomy, generating static maps of the mosquito brain at the light level in conjunction with whole-brain serial section electron microscopy. The lab aims to apply these approaches to understand mosquito olfaction and ultimately develop novel strategies to thwart these deadly insects.

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