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Current Lab Members



Tate S. Tunstall
I am interested in using both models and experimental data to investigate how host and pathogen diversity affects disease outbreaks.

I am currently looking at how differing growth rates and host tolerance can affect outbreaks of the amphibian chytrid, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, in communities in Panama.  


Graduate Students

Carly R. Muletz
My research focuses on how evolutionary and ecological factors shape the skin bacterial community of Plethodon salamanders and how bacterial community structure influences disease outcome of the salamander host. This is important because host associated microbial communities can be predictive or diagnostic of disease, but yet we do not know what processes generate and maintain the structure of these microbial communities. I have three main objectives for my dissertation: 1) to characterize the entire skin bacterial community on three Plethodon species to understand how these communities are influenced by the evolutionary history and environmental conditions of the salamander hosts, 2) to identify which cutaneous, culturable bacteria inhibit the growth of a fungal pathogen from three Plethodon species to determine if there are bacteria that may offer protection against fungal infection, and 3) to determine how temperature and pathogen exposure affect cutaneous bacterial community structure of Plethodon cinereus to understand how bacterial communities respond to stressors and influence disease outcome.
Status: 3rd year PhD Candidate
Graziella V. DiRenzo
I am interested in epizootic and enzootic disease dynamics. My research currently focuses on how Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) has affected amphibian population dynamics. I am also interested in understanding why certain species are selected out of populations more readily and why, as well as understanding the role of environmental reservoirs.  Broadly, I am interested in amphibian ecology, disease dynamics, community structure, species and disease interactions, and amphibian conservation. 

I am also really interested in using hierarchical models to account for imperfect detection of Bd on frogs and frogs in the environment. 

Status: 4th year PhD

Twitter: @gracediren

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Alexander J. Novarro
My dissertation research will investigate the effects of climate change on lungless salamanders. To begin, I will focus on body size growth rate (BSGR) - a major mechanism underlying individual body size. First, I will quantify the effects of temperature on BSGR. Next, I will determine the effects of BSGR on performance (i.e., sprint speed and survivorship). Finally, I will use historic climate data and future climate predictions to model the response of BSGR and its affect on Plethodon performance.

For more information, check out my website.

Status: 2nd year PhD