Assistant Professor of Ecology
Department of Science and Math
Fashion Institute of Technology
I am an ecologist interested in parasite co-infection in natural systems. I apply ecological ideas and theories developed for free-living systems to within-host processes to better understand interactions between co-infecting parasites and their effects on host condition.
By combining sampling of natural populations, field manipulations, sequencing and genetic tools, and optimized immunological methods, we can elucidate mechanisms behind variation in parasite burden, transmission, and disease dynamics.
I just came back from giving an invited talk at Tyson Research Center at Washington University, St. Louis. It was so much fun to meet with researchers there, faculty, post-docs, students, techs, and to learn about the projects they have going on. To see some "doodles" made by audience members during my talk, check out the Pictures section!
I traveled to Glasgow, Scotland to present at poster about my research at the annual EEID meeting. It was great to represent FIT, discuss and meet with my colleagues, and be back in lovely Scotland! Check out the Pictures section to see some of the fun and science that was had!
After a great year as temporary faculty, I have accepted a tenure track position as Assistant Professor of Ecology at FIT! I am really looking forward to continuing to teach, mentor, and do research in this unconventional setting! I am planning on building new courses in disease ecology and bringing aspects of sustainability and science communication into my class pedagogy.
I am excited to announce that I have accepted a temporary full-time faculty position in the Department of Science and Mathematics at the Fashion Institute of Technology here in New York City for the upcoming academic year! This will be a great opportunity to get back into the classroom and to build science literacy and interest in non-science major students!
The whole Diuk-Wasser lab traveled to Ithaca, NY to present posters and talks at the 14th Annual EEID meeting. It was again a great meeting for networking, meeting friends, and discussing the most exciting topics in disease ecology with colleagues! We were also able to take in the "gorges" scenery and the fun that is the Ithaca Festival!
I moved from Edinburgh back to the US to start a new postdoc at Columbia University in Maria Diuk-Wasser's lab. I will be studying mechanisms and consequences of tick-borne co-infections, with an emphasis on Borrelia burgdorferi and Babesia microti, in Ixodes scapularis ticks and Peromyscus leucopus hosts. Its great to be in NYC and to start working with this great group!
Results from my study of tick and host blood bacterial communities has been features in a news story from the Indiana University Newsroom. It is also a nice summary of the work my PhD advisor has done with ticks over the years. Check it out!
The manuscript describing some of my PhD research on the bacterial communities in two tick species and a shared rodent host has been accepted to Molecular Ecology! Click here for a link to the paper in the May issue of the journal.
Our research group will be participating in the Edinburgh International Science Festival this April 4-19. Come see us at the National Museum of Scotland and learn about some of the parasites found in and on wild mice in the UK!
We (Andy Fenton, Amy Pedersen, and I) had a paper accepted in Trends in Parasitology that will be part of a special issue on intersections between ecology, parasitology, and wildlife disease. The review uses ecosystem ecology concepts to integrate parasites and hosts into a novel framework for assessing how co-infection will influence parasite infection and their impacts on different components of host health and physiology. A link to the Open Access article is now on my Publications page here.
The Pedersen lab conducted a successful field experiment to test how parasite communities of wood mice are perturbed and reassembled after targeted removal of nematode parasites (one of the most dominant parasite groups). We did this research at a new field site for us in Scotland, where we did a similar study this past July. New immune methods were tried out and we hope the results will help us better understand how the whole host is affected by different groups of parasites.
I presented new work on parasite community nestedness and order of infection at the British Society for Parasitology conference (April; Cambridge, UK), the Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Disease meeting (June; Fort Collins, CO, USA), and the European Wildlife Disease Association conference (August; Edinburgh, UK). The meetings all had their unique personalities and I had great feedback and discussions at each.
Paper of some of my thesis results accepted into the Journal of Experimental and Applied Acarology: "Tick community composition in Midwestern US habitats in relation to sampling method and environmental conditions." We hope our results will be useful for land managers, disease monitors, and medical professionals for better predicting risk of tick encounter and for tick-borne infections.
Collaborators at the University of Liverpool were interviewed for the Planet Earth Podcast about their work on disease ecology in rodents in the forests of the UK and the slums of Brazil. A really interesting piece (about 10 minutes) giving a great overview of how we do our research and why it is important.
Pictures of prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster) taken at the Indiana Research and Teaching Preserve site Bayles Road were used in a Smithsonian Magazine article. The focus of the article is on the study of monogamy in the lab, but a nice picture of a vole family in their natural habitat is a great addition! Read my blog post about it here. Also check out the website of the photographer, John Eastgate, for awesome wildlife and nature photography!