Leonard Munstermann, PhD, MA, BA

Senior Research Scientist in Epidemiology (Microbial Diseases); Head Curator of Entomology (Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History)

Research Departments & Organizations

School of Public Health: Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases

Yale Institute for Global Health

Global Health Studies

MacMillan Center

Research Interests

Biological Evolution; Colombia; Communicable Diseases, Emerging; DDT; El Salvador; Entomology; Genetics; Global Health; Guatemala; Honduras; Insect Vectors; Leishmaniasis; Leishmaniasis, Cutaneous; Leishmaniasis, Visceral; Malaria; West Nile virus; Yellow Fever

Research Summary

Tools of molecular genetics focused on the insect vector provide clues to genomic organization, population structure and evolutionary relationships. Dr. Munstermann’s research emphasizes three genetic approaches: (1) Gene linkage mapping provides genetic backbone for isolating genes and macrogenomic evolution; (2) Genetic variability within an insect species in the form of isoenzymes or DNA base pair substitutions indicate population structure, population origin or taxonomic relatedness; and (3) Identification of closely related vector species by (biochemical) genetic means. Research organisms are Aedes mosquitoes and phlebotomine sand flies of New and Old World.

A long term research focus is the geographic distribution of the insect vectors and the association with disease transmission. Species distribution maps, correlation to environmental factors and location of disease cases form a data matrix analyzable in a Geographical Information System. To better predict risk of disease outbreak-knowledge of vector species involved, vector distribution, and vector competence is required. These have been applied in the Mosquitoes of Sardinia Project and the Biogeography of New World Sand Flies.

Specialized Terms: Molecular genetics; Insect vectors; Phlebotomine sand flies; Entomology; Phylogeny; Taxonomy; Speciation

Extensive Research Description

  • Systematic Revision of the Genus Lutzomyia (400 species), New World Vectors of Leishmaniasis
  • Insect biodiversity in tropical forests
  • New Trap Methods for Insect Vectors
  • Translating Research in Medical Entomology intoK-12 Curricula
  • Epidemiological Interactions between Human,Sandfly, Reservoir Host and Parasite in a Novel Epidemic Situation of Cutaneous leishmaniasis.


  • Biological Research in Colombia Colombia (2008)

    Professor Munstermann is on the editorial board of Biomedica, the internationally recognized research journal of the National Institute of Health (Instituto Nacional de Salud), Bogotá, Colombia.

  • Biology and Genetics - Consultant to US Army Guatemala; Honduras; El Salvador (2008)

    Professor Munstermann is a consultant to the civilian research arm of the US military - the US Army Center of Health for Promotion and Preventive Medicine - West. He advises on issues of biology and genetics research in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

  • Taxonomy of Sand Flies (Lutzomyia Verrucarum Group) in South America Colombia (2007)

    Professor Munstermann works to establish a new taxonomy for the 400 sand fly species in the genus Lutzomyia.

Selected Publications

See list of PubMed publications

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Contact Info

Leonard Munstermann, PhD, MA, BA
Mailing Address
Epidemiology of Microbial DiseasesPO Box 208034
60 College Street

New Haven, CT 06520-8034

Curriculum Vitae

Research Image 1

New version (UV-LED, on right) of CDC llight trap

Research Image 2

bloodfeeding phlebotomine sand fly