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PhD student

Department

Zoology and Entomology
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Primary Supervisor
Jeff Garnas

Co Supervisor
Brett Hurley

I completed my BSc in Biology at the Universidad de las Americas Puebla (UDLAP) in my home country, Mexico. During this time, I realized the importance of insects in our daily lives and how ignorant we are about it. After meeting some fabulous researchers from the University of Arizona, I decided to continue my studies in this field in Tucson, AZ. I completed a MSc. in Entomology where I analyzed the gut microbiota of the giant mesquite bug (Thasus neocalifornicus) and found out that it was dominated by one genus of bacteria: Burkholderia . These bacterial symbionts seem to be acquired from the environment every generation.

After finishing my degree, I moved to South Africa to continue working with insects.  I am currently investigating the insect colonization of introduced black wattle (Acacia mearnsii) and beetle assemblages in pine plantations. I am interested in understanding what factors influence colonization in the exotic range of introduced plants after leaving behind a coevolved community of natural enemies in the native range. My research takes place in Mpumalanga, KwaZulu Natal and Limpopo provinces.

I am also a passionate photographer, traveler and love dancing!

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Publication
Olivier-Espejel S, Hurley BP, Garnas J. (2017) Assessment of beetle diversity, community composition and potential threats to forestry using kairomone-baited traps. Bulletin of Entomological Research 107(1):106-117. 10.1017/S0007485316000699
Olivier-Espejel S, Sabree ZL, Noge K, Becerra JX. (2011) Gut microbiota in nymph and adults of the giant mesquite bug (Thasus neocalifornicus) (Heteroptera: Coreidae) is dominated by Burkholderia acquired de novo every generation. Environmental Entomology 40(5):1102-1110. 10.1603/EN10309