Meet Baylor’s nationally recognized mosquito expert
When confronted with mosquitos while playing outside as a child, did you:
A) swat at them,
B) put on more mosquito repellant, or
C) become fascinated by them and write a 7th-grade research paper on the buzzing, biting creatures?
You can probably guess which of those Baylor’s resident mosquito expert chose. Dr. Richard Duhrkopf, associate professor of biology at Baylor, became fascinated by mosquitos while enjoying childhood fishing trips to Wisconsin, and his middle school research paper on them foreshadowed his work as an adult. (Granted, Duhurkopf also probably swatted at a few, like the rest of us.)
His childhood fascination led to a unique, renowned career in research and academics. Duhrkopf came to Baylor in 1984, but his involvement in the field began even earlier in organizations that help increase global understanding of mosquitos, the diseases they spread, and even their benefits. (Believe it or not, he says, mosquitos pollinate nearly 80% of wildflowers.) For nearly 40 years, Duhrkopf has worked with such groups as the American Mosquito Control Association, the Texas Mosquito Control Association, and the West Nile Virus Task Force. At Baylor, his research focuses in particular on two species, the yellow fever and Asian tiger mosquitos, and he teaches classes in bioscience, animal behavior and behavioral genetics.
Concern over the Zika virus has brought mosquitos — and by connection, Duhrkopf — into the news lately. (For instance, we shared some of his advice related to Zika on this blog this spring.) His expertise on mosquito-borne illnesses has been sought out by such outlets as USA Today and The Dallas Morning News, first with the West Nile virus a couple of years ago, and now with Zika.
When he’s not focused on understanding mosquitos, Duhrkopf is an avid traveler and photographer, with an impressive portfolio of shots taken in locations stretching from Waco to New Orleans and around the globe — places where his research at Baylor helps the local population better understand the creatures that we just can’t escape, no matter how much we’d like to.
Sic ’em, Dr. Duhrkopf!