Current Postdoctoral Research Associates

ErikPéter Molnár

Péter is interested in the ecological impacts of climate change and other anthropogenic influences, such as habitat loss and habitat restoration. He studies diverse aspects of this topic, from climate change impacts on the structure of arctic host-parasite systems to the impacts of a melting sea ice habitat on polar bear populations. Outside of the Arctic, Péter works with Dr. Claire Standley to study how habitat fragmentation and conservation corridors affect parasite and pathogen transmission in tropical ecosystems, for instance, between domestic dogs and cats, feline mesopredators such as ocelot and margay, and apex predators such as jaguar and puma. Péter’s research blends ecological insight and field data collection with statistical analyses and mathematical modeling to identify and quantify the biological mechanisms by which environmental change affects ecosystems. Common to all of his projects is a focus on conservation biology and an emphasis on applying quantitative models and empirical findings to aid conservation managers in proactive conservation planning.

Paul

Paul Williams

Paul is a theoretician interested in evolutionary medicine. His work focuses primarily on modeling the evolution of virulence in microparasites, the epidemiological and evolutionary effects of disease intervention strategies, and the evolution of aging. A main goal of his research is to understand how phenotypic variation among hosts influences the dynamics and evolution of infectious diseases. Presently he is working on integrating theory and data in order to gain a more complete understanding of the factors (e.g. host immunity, virulence-transmission tradeoff) underlying virulence evolution in ecologically realistic host-pathogen systems. Ultimately, the goal of this work is to provide policy makers with new conceptual tools in the pursuit of enduring solutions to the problem of treatment-driven pathogen evolution.

Anieke

Anieke van Leeuwen

As theoretical ecologist, Anieke is fascinated by the complexity of ecosystems and community dynamics. The question of what processes structure ecosystems, is at the core of her research. Anieke studies how accounting for population structure and for differences between individual characteristics affects ecosystem processes. The effect of human interference with ecosystems is another part of her research interests. Human interference with ecological processes often shapes a dominant interaction in communities be it the impact of fisheries on top-predator species or the large-scale deforestations in agricultural areas. Such interference has direct as well as indirect effects, often visible at many different trophic levels. Anieke’s research focuses on the causes of population collapses, lack of species recoveries, and regime shifts. For this focus a mechanistic approach is used, to understand the processes underlying observed patterns, and leading to explanations of emerging population and community dynamics. Anieke makes use of physiologically structured population models and stage-structured biomass models, and both numerical and analytical techniques for analysis. Connect with her through ResearchGate or LinkedIn.

Carrie

Carrie Cizauskas

As a veterinarian, Carrie is most interested in the physiological, immunological, and pathological processes occurring inside hosts in response to infectious disease pressures. Why do hosts get the infections that they do, when they do? What makes some hosts more susceptible than others, and what drives seasonal susceptibility? How do current infections affect hosts’ abilities to fight off other infectious agents? Carrie is particularly interested in the immunomodulatory effects of macroparasite infections, and has studied coinfection trade-offs in wild herbivores in a natural anthrax and gastrointestinal parasite system in Africa. She is currently extending this research into new African systems and new species, while examining issues of immunological resistance and tolerance and the interactions between hosts, parasites, and the host microbiome. Her underlying goal is to bring immunology out controlled laboratory settings, and to build off of the work that others have conducted in animal models by ground-truthing it in more variable natural systems.

Current Graduate Students

Nitin

Nitin Sekar

Nitin Sekar is a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate interested in the functional ecology of endangered species, the relationship between ecosystem services and poverty, and policy related to wildlife conservation and equitable development in the Global South. The aim of his dissertation is to shed light on whether Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) are ecologically unique or redundant as seed dispersers in a disturbed, forested landscape typical of much of India. To understand this, Nitin is collecting data to identify the main alternative dispersers to elephants and to quantitatively compare the contributions of each of these animal species to the dispersal of seeds of three mammal-dispersed fruiting species in Buxa Tiger Reserve, India.

Additionally, Nitin is pursuing a certificate in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy (STEP) with the Princeton Environmental Institute and the Woodrow Wilson School. His policy work will look at whether the Indian government's voluntary village relocation scheme is likely to achieve its stated ecological and equitable development objectives, as well as whether voluntary village relocation is a cost-effective intervention. Nitin's work is made possible by a collaboration with Dr. R. Sukumar of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and by support from Dr. Henry Horn, Dr. David Wilcove, Dr. Dan Rubenstein, and Dr. Atul Kohli. His work is funded by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, the World Wildlife Fund Asian Rhino and Elephant Action Strategy (AREAS) Program, and the Princeton Environmental Institute STEP Program.

Sebu

Sebastián Muñoz

Sebastián Muñoz is searching for ecological patterns in parasite communities among a wide range of host species and environments. A native of Chile, with a professional degree in Marine Biology, Sebastián uses diverse techniques to find and understand the rules governing species coexistance within these communities. He was first introduced to parasitology working in marine environments, studying the ecology of fish and mollusk parasites.

At Princeton, he is expanding his research by looking at the influence of species distribution and their interspecific interactions on the structure of the parasite community. Thanks to a summer research grant from his Department at Princeton University and the travel allowance from his Fulbright International Science and Technology Award, he studied the macroparasites of the Tasmanian Devil, an endangered species with very limited parasitological information. This work estimated for the first time the exact abundance of parasites per host, and revealed what appears to be a new nematode species. As the Tasmanian Devil faces extinction due to a novel and contagious form of cancer, documenting their parasite communities could help researchers to better understand their defenses against infection, with important consequences for their conservation. In collaboration with a former Princeton student they carried out a study on how macroparasites may reduce inflammatory immune responses in songbirds. In the long term, his goal is to help to understand the underlying phenomena that drive the observed patterns in these communities.

Jenni


Jennifer Peterson

Jenni is interested in ecological aspects of global health issues, especially neglected tropical diseases.  Her thesis research centers on Chagas disease and its vector, the triatomine bug.  She is investigating both theoretically and experimentally if trypanosome coinfection can regulate populations of triatomines to the point where Chagas disease transmission is altered. She does her experimental research in Medellin, Colombia and theoretical work in Princeton.


Ctina

Christina Faust

With a broad interest in understanding the nexus of human, wildlife and ecosystem health, Christina is using her dissertation to skim the surface of the complex interactions pathogens have with their environments and hosts. For her dissertation project, Christina is examining how heterogeneous landscapes shape vector-borne disease transmission, with a focus on mechanisms for promoting cross-species transmission events. This research has also inspired a broader interest in the theoretical underpinnings of vector-borne disease transmission, but her current pathogens of choice are non-human primate malaria parasites. She is working with several colleagues at Oxford University, Universidad de los Andes and Universitat de


cara

Cara Brook

For her dissertation, Cara is studying the impact of human land conversion on metapopulation dynamics of zoonotic disease in Madagascar. She examines connectivity between discrete communities of animal reservoirs of human disease and explores how perturbations to that connectivity affect risk of zoonotic spillover. In collaboration with the University of Antananarivo, Cara maintains several field projects in Madagascar, exploring both habitat fragmentation impacts on rodent reservoirs of the bacterial disease Leptospirosis, as well as land use impacts on sharing of zoonotic henipaviruses between African and Asia clades of flying fox. She hopes to eventually be able to quantify the impacts of disease infection on the socioeconomic status of human communities in Madagascar. You can read more about her work on her National Geographic blogsite.  

Tim

Tim Treuer

Tim is broadly interested in the conservation and health implications of human land-use in the tropics. In previous work he's looked at effects of cacao agro-forestry on Nymphalid butterfly assemblages and at impacts of illegal logging on the mosquito vectors of malaria and the dengue. His current work in Costa Rica focuses on faunal responses to forest restoration. In El Área de Conservación Guanacaste (one of the world's largest tropical forest restoration projects), Tim is exploring how the recovery of bird, bat, frog and insect communities in regenerating forest on old cattle pastures is effected by the soil quality and presence of old cattle shade trees. He is particularly excited about developing acoustic surveys as a rapid, non-invasive, ecologically meaningful, and multi-taxa alternative to traditional biodiversity surveys.

Previous Postdoctoral Fellows

Ellie Whittaker Machin (2011-2012)
Claire Standley (2010-2012)
Erik Osnas (2009-2012)
Kate Nowak (2010-2011)
Stephanie Eby (2010-2011)
Walter Jetz (2003-2006)
Parviez Hosseini (2002-2009)
Cassandra Nunez (2003-2004)
Karin Lindstrom (2001-2004)
Jon Paul Rodriquez (1999-2001)
Sonia Altizer (1999-2001)
Johannes Foufoupoulos (1998-2002)
Simon Frost (1996-1997)
Giulio de Leo (1993-1996)
Margarita Lampo (1993-1996)
Tim O’Brien (1990-1992)
Margaret Kinnaird (1990-1992)
Nicholas Georgiadis (1987-1989)

Previous Graduate Students

Leslie Reperant (2005-2010)
Juliet Pulliam (2002-2007)
Kate Hampson (2002-2007)
Kelly Lee (2001-2006)
Ricardo Holdo (1999-2005)
Anna Jolles (1999-2004)
Rae Winfree (1996-2002)
Paula Kahumbu (1994-2001)
Jon Paul Rodriquez (1993-1999)
Charles Foley (1992-2002)
Martha Hurley (1991-2000)
Jorge Ahumada (1991-1995)
Adina Merenlender (1987-1993)