Who I Am

Extracurricular: NSF Graduate Research Fellow

PhD Major: Microbiology

A Bit About Me

I have always been interested in the complexity of life and its nesting doll nature. This first led me to study parasites during my undergraduate career at Smith College, where I developed diagnostic assays for nematode parasites of marine mammals. Following this, I interned at the Natural History Museum in London, where I studied molecular paleoparasitology and the detection of parasites in soil from ancient human grave sites. For my master’s degree I shifted my focus to the use of terrestrial blood-sucking leeches as a method of sourcing DNA for biodiversity surveys in rainforests of the Indopacific. For my Ph.D., I have moved to the study of bat viruses and ecology relevant to virus transmission.

What I Hope To Do

In this project, I hope to uncover the foraging behaviours of bats and look at these behaviours in the context of potential viral spillover events. We are conducting our project in the Mount Elgon region of Eastern Uganda, which is rich in cave-roosting bats, some of which carry viruses relevant to human health. This research scholarship will support the use of camera traps at known foraging sites, previously determined by afixing GPS units to bats, to see what other species are present at these sites. Once these species are identified, the potential for spillover based on both behaviour and physiological similarity can be assessed.

My Personal Thanks

Along with our entire research team, I would love to thank The Africa Center at Colorado State University and their supporters for the funding to further this project. This research scholarship allows us to expand  the scope of our project, and broaden the types of methodologies employed to answer questions. The camera traps purchased with this funding will allow us to see direct interaction between non-bat species in spaces utilized by bats. I am infinitely appreciative of this opportunity to expand the types of questions myself and my Ugandan colleagues can ask within the framework of this project.