Dr. Glen Hood
Glen Hood was born and raised in Houston, Texas. He received both his B.Sc. in Biology and M.Sc. in Population and Conservation Biology from Texas State University and his Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the University of Notre Dame. During his time at Texas State, He was introduced to and fell in love with the fields of entomology, parasitology and cecidology (the study of insect induced plant galls). His Ph.D. research focused on understanding the evolution and maintenance of new insect species (the process of speciation) via “sequential divergence”. Specifically, sequential divergence is process whereby speciation of one organism induces “sequential” divergence events of associated organisms. During the course of his work, he was able to show that ecological and genetic divergence of a single species of fruit fly induced the sequential ecological and genetic divergence of an entire community of insect parasites attacking the fly.
Biological threats to human health are ever present and come in multiple forms. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security defines biological threats as “…organisms or toxins that can kill or incapacitate people, livestock and crops”. The most obvious of these include (1) air and water borne contaminants (bacteria, viruses, protozoa, parasites, fungi), (2) vector borne human diseases (e.g., mosquitoes that vector malaria), (3) blood borne pathogens (e.g., hepatitis) and (4) the spread of insect pests that destroy agriculturally important crops. In addition, biological threats broadly include threats to ecosystem health such as the invasion of species into non-native habitats that cause environmental or human harm or the extirpation of native species that have a profound impact on the stability of communities and ecosystems.
As an Academy Fellow, Glen's research is focused on combining emerging genomic techniques in conjunction with population genomics tools to identify diagnostic DNA sequences to rapidly and reliably detect and distinguish emerging biological threats linked to human health. He is concentrating on two test-cases: (1) detecting and thwarting the spread of the apple maggot fly pest, Rhagoletis pomonella, in the apple-growing regions of central Washington and (2) detecting Chagas disease in kissing bugs in Texas and the Southern U.S.