About the Lab
The main research questions that my lab pursues are those concerning the taxonomy, systematics, comparative genomics, and biogeography of parasites.
The primary research focus has been the malaria parasites, of which there are over 500 species in several genera that use mammals, birds, and squamate reptiles as hosts. Lizard malaria parasites have been a particular interest as there are dozens of species infecting hosts on almost every continent of the world, providing vast opportunities for questions of their evolutionary history and biogeography. Other parasites that we work on include Babesia in high latitude mammals, the population genetics of canine heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis), Nipah viruses in Asian megabats, and pinworms and ectoparasites of Caribbean anoles. See our PEOPLE page for more info on who is working on what. In the past, I also did some work on the bacterial endosymbionts of leeches and the genomics of St. Louis encephalitis viruses.
I am very fond of island systems and have done a lot of work in the Caribbean on both the Greater and Lesser Antilles. Parasites are everywhere, however, so geography is practically limitless.
My lab uses modern molecular systematic methods to extract DNA, amplify markers of interest and either sequence the DNA or genotype it. At the Sackler Lab for Comparative Genomics we have dedicated labs to DNA extraction and PCR set-up and an ABI 3730xl for DNA sequencing and genotyping. Additionally, we use traditional parasitological methods, particularly light microscopy to look for, observe, and describe parasites. The lab also uses ecological niche modeling (ENM) to predict the distribution of parasites and their hosts.