Dr. Marten J. Edwards

New Science Building > 207


  • National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellowship, Case Western Reserve University
  • Ph.D., University of Arizona
  • Peace Corps, Kingdom of Tonga
  • B.A., Reed College

Teaching Interests

I emphasize the connections between living things, from the molecule to the whole enchilada. Some students think I am obsessed with insects, especially the ones that bite and transmit diseases. While that is true, I see insects as a truly incredible set of goggles through which to view nature and our role in it.

Students in many of my classes do quite a bit of writing. My general approach to writing is that we should always try to write to be read. In other words, write in a way that people will actually want to read what we have to say—when nobody is watching. Write things that are so interesting, our readers will be able to tune out all distractions while reading our work at a busy airport terminal.

Another hallmark of my teaching is my knack for making biological concepts as “sticky” as possible, either by connecting a concept to existing twigs of understanding or by putting it in the context of a catchy tune. Years after my classes, my students still sing, “Won’t you take me to—translocon,” to the tune of  “Funkytown,” while they remember how a signal peptide directs a new protein to the endoplasmic reticulum during the process of translation.


Research, Scholarship or Creative/Artistic Interests

The Edwards Lab focuses on two blood-sucking organisms: mosquitoes and ticks.  We have been investigating how mosquitoes produce juvenile hormone, which regulates many different aspects of the mosquito lifestyle, including their ability to reproduce. Starting in 2018, we will be collaborating with researchers at Georgetown University to determine how invasive Asian tiger mosquitoes survive the cold winters we experience in Allentown. We have also been supported by the Luther Rhodes Endowment for Infectious Disease Research from the Lehigh Valley Health Network to determine the percentage of ticks that are infected with the bacteria that cause Lyme disease and other pathogens. Students in my lab gain experience in every part of this project, from collecting ticks in the woods to identifying the pathogens using a variety of molecular tools.

I am also a frequent collaborator in national efforts to map the geographic distribution of 17-year cicadas. As an entomologist with experience in the identification of insects in Pennsylvania, I answer general questions that are related to insects or other “bugs,” such as ants, kissing bugs (and their non-offensive look-alikes, stink bugs) and native bees.


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