Who I Am


  • IDRRTP NIH T32 Fellow
  • VPR Anschutz Fellow
  • FLAS Fellow (2016-18)


  • GradShow Top Scholar
  • ASTMH Travel Awardee
  • CSU PRSE Awardee

Academics: PhD Major: Microbiology


  • MSc Global Health, 2018
  • Duke University
  • BS Biology, 2016
  • Berry College
  • BA Spanish, 2016
  • Berry College

A Bit About Me

I am a third-year PhD student in the Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology program at Colorado State University. My love of caving recreationally and working with wild mammals in the field led me to the Kading lab where I now study horseshoe bats and their associated viruses. My work includes identifying potential routes of spillover: how a virus might “spill-over” into a different species through direct or indirect exposure. As a former Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellow, I value interdisciplinary and intercultural knowledge sharing when conducting research abroad. I strive to bring a level of humility and understanding to my work, particularly as I operate in a region with different traditions and value systems from my own.

What I Hope To Do

My research group is part of a larger partnership between Makerere University, the Uganda Virus Research Institute, and the Uganda Wildlife Authority.  Our primary goal is to study bat ecology and virus prevalence in Uganda, and to create a sustainable in-country surveillance network for pandemic preparedness. We work in several cave systems in the Mount Elgon region located in Eastern Uganda. We sample both fruit bats and insectivorous bats for viruses of importance to human health.

I aim to build upon our surveillance efforts by characterizing bat interactions with humans and domestic or wild animals. Observations from previous visits to our study site have revealed that community members maintain an intimate relationship with bat caves. People harvest guano as fertilizer, spend time enjoying shade on hot days, harvest cave crystals to sell, and may use caves as temporary housing for livestock. As we continue to gather information on human cave use via focus groups and surveys, I plan to use high-resolution infrared camera traps to capture evidence of other cave users: domestic and wild animals. With better information on the diversity of animals living and interacting with bat caves, we can better understand the risk of virus spillover and make informed decisions on both public health messaging and cave conservation strategies.

My Personal Thanks

I deeply appreciate this generous award from the Africa Center and the opportunities it provides for our research group. With this contribution, we will address a significant gap in knowledge on how caves might serve as a unique interface for interactions between humans, bats, and other wildlife, especially in an area of growing human land use change. I also want to convey what a valuable tool these camera traps will be for community engagement. I had many kids crowding around me to look at a picture of a civet when I set out a camera as a pilot study!

Learn About My Research