2016 Outstanding New Investigator: Giancarlo Lopez-Martinez

Giancarlo Lopez-MartinezA Puerto Rico native, Dr López-Martínez received his MS and PhD from the Ohio State University with a focus on stress physiology of temperate and polar insects. A big component of his graduate work was rooted in hormesis and the protective benefits that low-levels of stress have against higher levels of different stressors (cross tolerance). He joined the lab of Dr Daniel Hahn at the University of Florida where he worked on low-oxygen hormesis and the reduction of post-irradiation oxidative damage. It was while at Florida that he became interested in the long-term effects of hormesis and how sexual performance and longevity can be improved by hormetic approaches. This work led to real world hormetic applications in pest control by improving a commonly used pesticide-free control tactic called the sterile insect technique (SIT).

During his time at the University of Florida, Dr López-Martínez became more interested in free radical-mediated damage and how damage from all types of environmental stresses is driven by free radicals and lead to oxidative damage. Thus, he started using oxidative damage markers as indicators for environmental stress and as a potential way of tracking the effectiveness of hormetic interventions. Through the use of oxidative damage biochemistry, he has linked free radical damage to decreases in performance, reproduction, and longevity. At the same time, he has used hormetic approaches to reduce free radical damage and improve organismal performance.

Dr López-Martínez started his own lab in the Biology Department at New Mexico State University in 2013 where he focuses on the short and long-term effects of environmental stressors in animals (mostly insects). He has received funding from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to improve radiation-based pest control strategies and from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to purchase a cabinet x-ray irradiator to continue his work on the improvement of post-irradiation performance via low-oxygen hormesis. Additionally, his lab is currently funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) on a project aimed at the long-term effects of hormesis at improving lifespan (longevity) and healthspan (reproductive output and immune function).