I am a quantitative disease ecologist interested in epizootic and enzootic disease dynamics, community and population ecology, and amphibian conservation.
To mimic natural hierarchical systems, I develop hierarchical Bayesian models, and I exploit data collected over space and time to separate ecological and observational processes to answer ecological questions.
My research program focuses on unifying ecological and evolutionary theory to address fundamental questions in disease ecology using field, experimental, and quantitative approaches.
My research program
Coinfection disease dynamics
Despite the ubiquity of coinfections in natural systems, their consequences on disease outcomes and pathogen evolution remain unknown. My research adopts theory from community ecology to provide a new perspective on the impacts of coinfections on disease dynamics.
I empirically test how the order of infectious agent introduction affects within- and between-host disease dynamics. I measure growth rate, developmental speed, respiration, feeding rates, immune response (e.g., counting white blood cells), and pathogen growth rate.
I also collect tissue samples for transcriptomic and microbiome analysis to understand the effects of single and coinfections on host resistance, tolerance, and microbiome stability
Much of this work is in prep
Advanced quantitative approaches
One of the largest obstacles to reliable inference of epidemiological parameters is imperfect host and pathogen detection. Imperfect host and pathogen detection is caused by the uncertainty of species presence, which is typically governed by species abundance). Broadly, I am interested in understanding how imperfect host and pathogen detection influences the inference of disease dynamics and developing quantitative tools that improve the reliability of epidemiological parameters while taking advantage of commonly collected data (i.e., data from populations where individuals are not individually marked).
I develop novel Bayesian hierarchical models using detection/non-detection or count data to accurately and precisely estimate parameters that are comparable to estimates generated from data collected by marking individuals, which can be costly and labor-intensive.
The role of abiotic & biotic reservoirs in disease dynamics
Species do not occur in isolation, and their interactions likely contribute to their disease dynamics. For example, species with high infection intensities, abundance, or prevalence may contribute disproportionately to community disease dynamics.
I use lab experiments and field data to test hypotheses relating to variation in transmission and reservoirs.
Visiting scientist– United States Geological Survey
July 2019- present
Collaborating with: Dr. Evan H. C. Grant
Pennsylvania State University
July 2019- present
Collaborating with: Dr. David A. W. Miller
National Science Foundation Post-doctoral Fellow
University of California, Santa Barbara
January 2017- June 2019
Collaborating with: Dr. Cherie Briggs
Post-doctoral research associate, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
July 2016- Present
Collaborating with: Dr. Elise Zipkin
Ph.D University of Maryland, College Park, MD Sept 2011- May 2016
Program: Behavior, Ecology, Evolution, & Systematics
Thesis: Community and population level effects of disease on a Neotropical amphibian community
Advisor: Dr. Karen R. Lips
B.S University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT Sept 2007- May 2011
Biological Sciences, Honor’s Program
Honor’s Thesis: The Late Devonian Extinction characterized by Brachiopods from Cameron, NY
Advisor: Dr. Andrew Bush