I'm currently a member of the Miller Lab under the advisement of Dr. James Miller, pursuing a doctoral degree at the University of Illinois U/C. My current research involves modeling the Lyme disease community combining disease ecology with community ecology in understanding the major processes/mechanisms by which the black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis) establishes itself in previously uninhabited environments as well as the maintenance of the pathogen Borrelia burgdorferi in the host community. My hope is to compare the relative contribution of the white-tailed deer and migratory birds to the dispersal of the ticks throughout the US. I also intend to determine the mechanisms in which the wildlife host community influences pathogen prevalence and consequently its impact on human Lyme disease risk.
My (previous) master’s thesis under the advisement of Dr. Timothy Bell at Chicago State University focused on the management and restoration of the federally threatened Pitcher’s Thistle (Cirsium pitcheri). I determined how the viability of the current Indiana meta-population has responded to the addition of two new populations. In addition, I worked as a Conservation Research Intern with the Morton Arboretum where I conducted population viability analyses for several C. pitcheri populations spanning Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin. I determined growth trajectories, estimated the impacts of weather and the effect of seed sources on the establishment of the only reintroduced population in Illinois.
In between my Masters' and Doctorate, I continued to work as a Research Assistant with the Morton Arboretum where I completed work using GIS to map the historic Pre-European settlement vegetation for Northwest Indiana, Southwest Michigan, and Southeast Wisconsin.
Ecology of Lyme disease
Pitcher's thistle restoration
Pre-European Settlement vegetation