Ph.D. in Entomology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2007
M.Sc. in Zoology, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, 2001
B.Sc. in Zoologiy, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, 1998
I am interested in taxonomy and phylogeny of the highly diverse leafhopper family, Cicadellidae. I have mostly focused on the systematics of sharpshooters, those belonging to the subfamily Cicadellinae. Although Cicadellinae is taxonomically a well-studied leafhopper group in the world, there are still many undescribed species and genera, especially in the Neotropical region.
For my Ph.D. dissertation conducted at the Department of Entomology of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign under the guidance of Dr. Chris Dietrich and co-advised by Dr. Roman Rakitov. I was interested in understanding:
1) the phylogenetic relationship among genera of the New World tribe Proconiini. This was the first attempt to construct a phylogeny for this group and included morphological and DNA-sequence data. At the same time, this phylogeny was used to understand the evolution of a complex ovipositional behavior only found in some members of the Proconiini and its associated morphological changes. A summary of this project can be found HERE.
2) the phylogenetic relationships among higher groupings of Cicadellinae sensu lato also using morphology and DNA-sequences. Different authors have included different tribes in the subfamily Cicadellinae, most probably due to non-apomorphic characters related to their feeding behavior, mostly probably xylem-feeders. A phylogeny focused on these groups will certainly improve the classification of these economically important herbivores. Also, I am particularly in the highly diverse cosmopolitan tribe Cicadellini and their generic groupings and geographical patterns.
2) the association between sharpshooters and their two primary endosymbiotic bacteria, Candidatus Sulcia muelleri and Candidatus Baummania cicadellinicola. Both bacteria appear to be cospeciating simultaneously with their sharpshooter hosts, which further corrobarates their close association of providing complementary vitamins and aminoacids towards the sharpshooters' nutrition. This was the first paper showing the cospeciation of two primary unrelated baterial lineages within one insect host. This work was conducted in collaboration with Dr. Nancy Moran's lab.
If you are interested you can check my Ph.D. thesis HERE (.pdf file=15Mb).
I am currently on the process of revising the Neotropical sharpshooter genera Dichrophleps, Lissoscarta, and Molomea, along with describing several new Madagascar sharpshooters. For future research plans, I am also interested in studying the Amazonian Idiocerinae, which are definitely one of the most diverse and abundant leafhopper groups in the Amazon basin.