Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Entomology & Parasitology
Dr. Lowenberger has worked on the international scene since the mid 1980s. After his undergraduate degree he worked for a Colombian non-governmental organization working on agricultural and primary health care programs. Subsequently he has worked on development and research problems in Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Brazil and Egypt. His current research looks at the epidemiological and molecular factors that determine how and why some insects transmit pathogens to humans while others do not: essentially he studies the innate immune system of insects and how they recognize the pathogens and pathways they use to eliminate these pathogens. If we could persuade all insects to kill these pathogens we could eliminate some of these diseases. Dr. Lowenberger’s research lab includes—or has included—many students, visiting scientists or professors from countries where these diseases and insect vectors are found. They return to their home institutions with the molecular tools to explore or validate in the field what we hypothesize should be happening based on the laboratory studies. They also bring a real world contribution to Canadian students on the realities of working under difficult conditions. Dr. Lowenberger and students also have spent significant time working in these institutions in Latin America, which has resulted in more formal associations with Simon Fraser University through memorandums of understanding. Dr. Lowenberger has a passion for research in Latin America and spent significant time discussing ideas with Chris Dagg, which helped develop his approach to development projects and research initiatives. In terms of International development, early work established long-term agricultural development projects that increased crop and honey production, implemented different farming techniques to increase productivity, and therefore household income. Later projects have identified mechanisms we can manipulate in insects to reduce the transmission of viruses—such as Dengue and Zika—by mosquitoes to humans.