I am a chemical ecologist whose research focuses on the mechanisms, ecological consequences, and the evolution of plant-induced responses to herbivore damage. Conceptually, I study plant secondary metabolism as a vehicle of information transfer. Chemical information can mediate complex interactions from the molecular and cell to the whole plant and community level. As a consequence, my research includes studying chemical elicitation of plant responses, plant chemistry-mediated alterations in insect population and community dynamics, plant-plant communication, plant-pollinator interactions and plant defense mechanisms against herbivores. In my lab, we use chemical and molecular tools in manipulative field and laboratory experiments to understand the mechanism of elicitation, signal transduction and information-mediating secondary metabolite production in plants responding to biotic and abiotic environmental stresses. Moreover, we put a particular emphasis on studying the ecological functions and evolution of plant metabolic responses and chemical information transfer in the plants' native habitats. With more recent projects, my group tries to apply some of the chemical ecology principles found in native systems to control insect pests in agricultural systems. My research includes a number of different study systems in New York, Utah, Peru, Costa Rica, Colombia and Kenya.
I studied ecology, genetics and geobotany and received my Master's Degree at the University of Wurzbug, Germany. I received my PhD (Dr.rer.nat.) from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology and University of Jena, Germany.