I joined the Entomology and Plant Pathology Department in March 2012 as a Medical and Veterinary Entomologist. I have a broad background in medical and veterinary entomology with specific training in vector control, vector and pathogen surveillance, and vector ecology and genetics. My appointment is 90% research and 10% teaching; so I teach and study what I love: vector-biology and vector-borne diseases. I run my research program as a team, and the team’s mission: to improve human and animal health and welfare by minimizing the negative impacts of arthropods. Our research integrates vector management and control, describes vector life histories, delineates risk factors for pathogen and vectors, and characterizes vector populations using genetics (microbial, population, and landscape). Outcomes from the research program are the clarification of the role(s) of each arthropod in pathogen transmission and determination of underlining factors (from molecule to ecosystem) that contribute to the success of vectors.

I value and respect my diverse team members, and each has contributed significantly to the science and the program. The diversity of disciplines (e.g., entomology, animal science, biochemistry, pre-professional), experiences (e.g., high school, undergraduate, graduate, medical, veterinary medicine, etc.), and backgrounds (e.g., STEM-underrepresented groups) have helped make the research program successful. I also actively recruit people who want to work hard and make a positive impact on society. I am committed to strengthening diversity in science, and I am extremely proud of the students that contribute to the program.

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Research Focus

In the area of mosquito-borne diseases, my focus is on preventing Aedes mosquitoes from transmitting La Crosse virus (LACV). In North America, La Crosse encephalitis is the leading cause of arboviral disease among children and its incidence is rising in the southern Appalachian region. Our goals are to identify risk factors for infection, determine prevalence rates, and describe areas and seasons with increased rates. In turn, these sites will become study sites for management and control efforts.

In the area of tick disease ecology, I study the role of ticks in pathogen transmission. A combination of field and laboratory methods are used to identify common and rare vectors and their associated pathogens, describe vector life histories, ascertain ideal trapping methods, and describe preferred habitats to develop management strategies. I also conduct host association studies, population genetic analyses, and microbial community comparisons to determine how wildlife and associated habitats contribute to ticks parasitizing domesticated animals and humans.

Veterinary flies are among the most important pests in livestock production systems and are responsible for financial impacts in excess of a billion dollars per year due to direct and indirect damage. My research efforts with these flies are in collaboration with food safety and animal welfare projects. My role in each of these projects is to identify the contribution flies have in dispersing and transmitting pathogens, and how flies affect animal production and welfare.

Collaborations are transdisciplinary, multi-institutional, international, and multi-agency. This work is possible with academic, government, industry, and stakeholder partnerships.

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Extension and outreach focus

I am extremely proud of my service to the discipline and profession. My passion in my research fuels my professional service to citizens, members of the discipline, and stakeholders. I am an advocate for research experiences for students and promote this via integrating my research and teaching programs. I encourage students to participate in research symposiums.

As a first generation college female student (and scientist) and previous recipient of minority support, I am interested in fostering STEM education for underrepresented groups. I participate in a number of STEM education events and encourage those working in my research program to also participate.

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Teaching focus

I have three goals for my students; I want them to leave my instruction as objective, creative, and independent individuals. Objective individuals enter new experiences without bias, and use reason to evaluate situations to develop unique opinions. To encourage objective thinking, I expose students to discussions and scientific meetings to develop balanced arguments and objective opinions. Creative individuals test different ideas and techniques to find diverse and improved solutions. To encourage creative thinking, I demonstrate a variety of techniques and have students conduct research-based projects to develop and test hypotheses (often their own ideas) by applying the scientific method. Independent individuals are confident and productive, yet able to collaborate. To encourage independence, I teach students how to learn by helping them develop critical thinking and analytical skills through classroom discussions, breakout sessions in lectures, and problem-solving tasks.

It is my responsibility to help students discover how they learn and to help shape respectable citizens. I anticipate my classroom and research program will go through similar discoveries and developments, as each cohort will bring new and different expectations and each year will bring new technologies. I strive to be an objective, creative, and independent person; I hope my students value these characteristics in themselves.


Medical and Veterinary Entomology (EPP 425/EPP 525)
Special Problems in Entomology (EPP 493)

Rebecca Trout Fryxell

Associate Professor
office (865) 974-8824
fax (865) 974-4744

431 Plant Biotechnology Building
2505 EJ Chapman Drive
Knoxville, TN 37996-4560

105N Third Creek Building
2505 EJ Chapman Drive
Knoxville, TN 37996-4560

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B.S., Biology, Transylvania University
M.S., Entomology, University of Kentucky
Ph.D., Entomology, University of Arkansas
Postdoctoral scholar, University of California Davis

professional appointment
90% Research, 10% Teaching

Graduate program concentrations
Bioinformatics, Genomics, and Molecular Interactions
Organismal Biology, Ecology, and Systematics
Sustainable Disease and Integrated Pest Management Systems

Areas of expertise
entomology, vector biology, diagnostics and surveillance, population genetics

key words
mosquitoes, ticks, flies, ecology, management, genetics, transmission

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Research questions in our laboratory

  • What changes occur when a vector and/or pathogen invades a new habitat?
  • What are the risk factors associated with vector life histories and the presence (or absence) of a pathogen?
  • What are the important variables associated with vector competence and vector-borne diseases?
  • How can we prevent vector encounters to prevent vector-borne diseases?
  • How do vectors adapt to new environments?

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Current lab members

  • Jennifer Chandler, Research Specialist
  • Rebecca Butler, Ph.D. Student
  • Corey Day, Ph.D. Student
  • Katlyn Smith, Ph.D. Student

Selected Publications

Mosquito-related publications

Day, C.A., Trout Fryxell, R.T. Community efforts to monitor and manage Aedes mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae) with ovitraps and litter reduction in east Tennessee. BMC Public Health 22, 2383 (2022).

Butler, R. A., Fryxell, R. T., Kennedy, M. L., Houston, A. E., Bowers, E. K., Coons, L. B., … & Baxter, J. (2022). No Relationship Observed Between Habitat Type And Ricketsia Presence In Ectoparasites Collected From Rodents In Sothwestern Tennessee. The Southwestern Naturalist66(3), 233-239.