The research focuses on understanding climate change on agroecosystems (the ecology of agriculture). This is specifically thorough charting the effects of temperature change upon leafhopper vector behavior, which relates to the spread of Pierce's disease on grapevines. The headline finding from the research is that global warming exacerbates the disease symptoms seen with infected grapevines.
Pierce's disease is caused by a bacterium called Xylella fastidiosa. The disease is endemic in northern California, being spread by the blue-green sharpshooter, which only attacks grapevines. Vines become damaged through the bacterium causing a gel to form in the xylem tissue of the vine. This prevents water from being drawn through the vine. In terms of symptoms, the leaves become slightly yellow or red along margins in white and red varieties. This is followed by fruit clusters shriveling or becoming raisin-like.