Joy Winzerling

Research Interests

Dr. Joy Winzerling is a full professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She is the current Bart Cardon Associate Dean for Career and Academic Services. She holds a BS in Biological Science, MS in Nutritional Biochemistry and a doctorate in Nutritional Science. Her areas of specialized training are in mineral chemistry (iron), protein separation chemistry and vector biology. Dr. Winzerling’s research interests are varied. In the area of comparative nutrition her research laboratory currently has several projects focusing on iron metabolism of Aedes aegypti and Anopheles gambiae, mosquito vectors of dengue, yellow fever and malaria. Iron is a required nutrient for most species and organisms have evolved ways to use iron while preventing iron-mediated free radical formation. Female mosquitoes require a blood meal for oogenesis and receive a high iron load in this meal. One mechanism that allows the vectors to adapt to this load is iron storage inside ferritin. Her research group is studying mechanisms involved in the control of ferritin synthesis. In a second project, they are evaluating candidate proteins for mosquito iron metabolism by mass spectrometry in collaboration with Dr. Vicki Wysocki of The Ohio State University of the iron ovarian proteome of A. aegypti. Part of the iron requirement in vectors could reflect the demand for ribonucleotide reductase (RNR). Her group also collaborates with Dr. Daphne Pham, a molecular entomologist at the University of Wisconsin, studying iron-mediated transcriptional control of RNR in mosquitos. Diseases transmitted by mosquitoes are estimated to kill more than 2 million people annually. The vector for dengue, Aedes aegypti (yellow fever mosquito), is found in the desert Southwest of the continental United States. One approach to limiting the spread of disease is to reduce the numbers of mosquito vectors. Our area of research is iron metabolism. The long term goal of this research is to use molecular techniques to alter the expression of iron related proteins in mosquitoes to reduce fecundity (reproductive ability) and survival. The laboratory also has an international collaboration with Dr. Luz Vazquez from the Centro de Investigacion en Alimentacion y Desarrollo, Hermosillo, Mexico, have discovered a lectin (protein) from a desert plant that kills the larvae of the primary pest that destroys common beans. They are currently studying the structure and properties of this protein. They also collaborate on a project in mammals. Dr. Vazquez and her group are evaluating the use of nanoparticles to assist with the delivery of drugs by identification of glycoprotein ligands from pathological gut bacteria or from the mammalian gut surface. In addition to research interests, Dr. Winzerling is actively interested in STEM higher education, particularly for agriculture and the life sciences, undergraduate and graduate research, distance and digital learning, increasing student access and degree completion in higher education programs and the development and deployment of career training for students in higher education.