NEWS: I will be starting as an Assistant Professor in the School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems at Northern Arizona University in January 2018. I will be recruiting graduate students this Fall.
My research lies at the intersection of community and disease ecology. I apply a variety of mathematical, statistical and empirical methods to discover the ecological and epidemiological drivers of host-pathogen community composition, with the ultimate goal of informing infectious disease dynamics.
I am currently working as a postdoctoral researcher with Cherie Briggs and other collaborators. Similar to my previous postdoc (see below), we are developing computational methods to fit mechanistic, ecological models to relevant experimental and field data. In this case, we are interested in understanding how infection with a fungal pathogen (Bd) can alter the ecological interactions between co-habitating microbes on amphibian skin. By fitting dynamical models to such data, we can better understand community stability and make forward projections of population and community dynamics in the system, which may improve the use of probiotic treatments against Bd infection.
I recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Chicago, working with Greg Dwyer and our US Forest Service collaborator, Karl Polivka. We were studying the epizootic dynamics of Douglas-fir tussock moth baculoviruses in the Pacific Northwest. Our aim was to integrate experiments and mechanistic modeling approaches to develop insights for a USFS microbial control program and to generally gain a deeper understanding of the biology in this host-pathogen system. This project neatly demonstrates how mathematical epidemiology can inform a practical problem: biological pest control. You can read about this project - more informally - at this blog and this blog. The results from this project are forthcoming.
Before coming to Greg’s lab, I received my PhD in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology from the University of Colorado-Boulder, where I worked with Piet Johnson. For my dissertation, I studied how host and pathogen diversity affect transmission dynamics using theory and an amphibian-virus system of conservation concern. In an effort to understand broader scale patterns of pathogen diversity, I also applied the metacommunity framework to host-symbiont systems, which I continue to develop with theory and empirical approaches. You can read more about my research here.
In addition to basic research, I am also interested in creating outreach and teaching materials related to biology and, in particular, statistics and other quantitative methods. I am a proponent of strong data management, reproducible analysis, and unbiased visualization, and I am developing curricula to teach these useful skills to young biologists. You can see some sample material on my Blog.