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Neil Vickers

Co-Director and Professor

Ph.D. University of California, Riverside

Graduate Program Membership:

Office/Building: ASB 360
Phone: 801-585-1930
Vickers Lab:

Research Statement

For many species of animal the sense of smell is incredibly important in many life-sustaining activities. Animals use odors to identify receptive mates, distinguish friend from foe, and locate suitable prey or host plants. The ability of male moths to detect minute amounts of female pheromone and respond by flying upwind is an extraordinary demonstration of the role that smell can play in shaping behavior. In the Vickers laboratory behavioral studies (often conducted in a wind tunnel) provide the framework for subsequent neurophysiological recordings from sensory and central olfactory neurons. We use this neurothological approach to provide insights into the mechanisms that the brain uses to process and discriminate olfactory information as well as the evolution of olfactory communication.

Research Interests

General Interests
Specific Interests
  • Neuroethology
  • Neurophysiology of insect olfaction
  • Evolution of pheromone production and perception in moths
  • Odor-mediated behaviors of insects

Selected Publications

  • Lee SG*, Poole K, Linn Jr. CE and Vickers NJ. 2016. Transplant antennae and host brain interact to shape odor perceptual space in male moths. PLoS ONE 11(1): e0147906. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0147906
  • Crespo JG*, Vickers NJ and Goller F. 2014. Male moths optimally balance take-off thoracic temperature and warm-up duration to reach a pheromone source quickly. Animal Behaviour 98:79-85
  • Crespo JG*, Vickers NJ and Goller F. 2013. Pre-flight warm-up muscle activation patterns are modulated by female pheromones. Journal of Neurophysiology 110:862-871
  • Crespo JG*, Goller F and Vickers NJ. 2012. Pheromone induced modulation of pre-flight warm-up behavior in male moths. Journal of Experimental Biology 215: 2203-2209
  • Crespo JG* and Vickers NJ. 2012. Aglomerular Antennal Lobe Organization in Columbicola columbae (Phthiraptera: Ischnocera). Arthropod Structure and Development 41:227-230
  • Hillier NK* and Vickers NJ. 2011. Hairpencil volatiles influence interspecific courtship and mating between two related moth species. Journal of Chemical Ecology 37: 1127-1136
  • Hillier NK* and Vickers NJ. 2011. Mixture interactions in moth olfactory physiology: Examining the effects of odorant mixture, concentration, distal stimulation and antennal nerve transaction on sensillar responses. Chemical Senses 36: 93-108; doi:10.1093/ chemse/bjq102
  • Gould F, Estock M, Hillier NK*, Powell B, Groot AT, Ward CM, Emerson JL, Schal C, Vickers NJ. 2010. Sexual isolation of male moths explained by a single pheromone response QTL containing four receptor genes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 107:8660-8665. DOI:10.1073/pnas.0910945107

Courses Taught

  • Biol 3325: Comparative Physiology lab