- Institute of Biological Sciences, University of Talca, Talca, Chile
- Behavior, Biodiversity, Ecology, Evolution, Herbivores
Areas of expertise
I do work on insect-plant ecological interactions. Specifically, I study different aspects of aphid-plant interactions, although I usually address phenotypical responses to plant features. I would say that my leading expertise is the study of aphid probing behavior and reproductive performance. However, my principal interest is to contribute to the understanding the ecology and evolution of insect host specialization pattern, and from that, generates strategic knowledge that may help to develop control and conservation strategies for insect populations. I did my PhD in Chile on aphid-wheat interactions (comparing aphid behavior in wheat seedling with different abundances of chemical defenses) and during my thesis had the chance to visit several centers abroad. That allowed me to learn a lot about aphid biology and met a number of famous aphidologist. During my first postdoc (2000) I move to native aphids (aphids from southern beeches) and for my second postdoc (2002) I move to University of Talca in Talca. There I could not only work with native aphids but also with one aphid species which seriously damage poplar trees in Chile. In this case, the approach was more related with poplar breeding and tried to find aphid resistant traits among different poplar hybrids. After finishing that postdoc, I got a permanent position in the Institute of Biological Science and started my academic activities in January 2005. As professor, I have to combine research with teaching (40% dedication to teaching), which is very challenging. My teaching area is biodiversity, ecology and evolution. In research, I have the chance to deepen my interests in aphid ecology and been able to develop a close collaboration with Chilean colleagues and worked together in several grants, mostly on aphid ecology. I have also explored other pest insects as the codling moth. I have maintained international collaborations, which have been quite important to send Chilean students abroad, so they can be trained abroad. I am happy to say that I have mentored several Chilean students (undergrad, master and PhD) included students from other countries. I have supervised also a few postdocs. I became head of the Institute of Biological Science between 2016-2018.