John Beckmann, PhD.

not so Distinguished Assistant Professor of STUFF

Entomology and plant pathology

“We Build Toys, Some Toys Change the World” – NNT

woodcuts outside Beckmann’s lab by Tom Huck

education

B.S. – Auburn University, Computer Science, (in progress)

Postdoc. – Yale University, Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, 2014-2017

Ph.D. – University of Minnesota, Entomology, 2014

B.A. – University of Minnesota, Physiology, 2009

B.A. – University of Minnesota, Art, 2009

 

Professional Experience

Assistant Professor – Auburn University, Entomology and Plant Pathology

Expertise

Medical Entomology Forensic Entomology Consulting Biotechnology Reproductive Biology Data Visualization / Scientific Illustration Textile Engineering

Professional Associations… None to speak of

“The many speak highly of you, but have you really any grounds for satisfaction with yourself if you are the kind of person the many understand?” – Seneca

“We’ll ride the spiral to the end, and may just go where no one’s been; spiral out, keep going” – Tool

Research Activities

“We Build Toys. Some Toys Change the World.” – N.N.T.

Beckmann’s research focuses on mosquitoes and a bacteria named Wolbachia. Wolbachia lives inside insect testes and sterilizes sperm. One goal is to use Wolbachia as a means of sterilizing insect pests. Beckmann discovered the Wolbachia toxin-antidote operons responsible for the above insect sterility and characterized their enzymatic functions. This research led to multiple awards, grants, and patents and has been published in high impact journals such as Nature, Nature Microbiology, PNAS, and Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. His research has been highlighted by popular news outlets including Wired, The Scientist, and Nature News and Views.

Cytoplasmic Incompatibility: Wolbachia induce conditional sterility in insects called cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI). CI is used for direct suppression of insects via the sterile insect technique (SIT). SIT is the release of large numbers of sterile males to outcompete for mating with females. Ecologically, SIT drives down species-specific target populations and avoids pesticides. Endogenous CI is also a potent natural gene drive  capable of transforming insect populations. Our research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying CI and also how it can collapse in the wild.

Insect Transgenesis: To develop novel biotechnologies for transforming wild insect populations our lab uses advanced molecular biology to build and implement genetic modification of insects. Our research focuses on mosquito and Drosophila transgenesis using transposon based genome integrations.

Microbial Pathogens: Our lab also studies bacterial effector proteins from obligate intracellular organisms that cause epidemic typhus, scrub typhus, and rocky mountain spotted fever. All these diseases are transmitted by arthropods. Understanding genes that facilitate microbial/host interactions in both humans and arthropod systems are of paramount importance.

Recent Courses taught

Biotechnology 1 (Spring);  Medical Entomology (Fall); Scientific Illustration (Fall night)

select publications

If you think you have what it takes to compete in my lab… send me an email… beckmann@auburn.edu … even wolves need nurturing

“Pain is temporary, but a Nature paper is forever” – on the wall in the basement at Yale in a Zebrafish microinjection room.