Thanks to one Richmond biology professor, we may have a better understanding of how one invasive species spreads — or doesn’t.

Assistant professor of biology Kristine Grayson recently won a grant from the National Science Foundation to serve as lead investigator on a project researching how climate change effects the invasion of the gypsy moth.

Grayson’s grant is from an NSF program that seeks to fund projects where the ecological research challenges are the greatest and where research has the greatest potential to transform the field of ecology by addressing issues that have long hindered development of large-scale ecological research.

The gypsy moth, for those unfamiliar with the pest, is one of the most destructive species to hardwood trees in the eastern United States. And the critter has been on the move.

Grayson will be the lead investigator for a collaborative project researching the impact of climate change on the gypsy moth invasion. Grayson’s partners are Salvatore Agosta at Virginia Commonwealth University and Dylan Parry at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

She and her partners will use the gypsy moth invasion in North America to determine how spread rates change as a species enters new habitats and climates. The project will also examine how future climate changes will impact whether invasive species expand or contract their ranges. Lucky for students, her grant includes funding to bring on undergraduate researchers for the project.

Congratulations, Dr. Grayson! We’re excited to see where this important research leads and we love hearing about all of our many faculty-student research collaborations on campus.