Kelly Speer

Former Graduate Student, Richard Gilder Graduate School


  • PhD in Comparative Biology, Richard Gilder Graduate School at the American Museum of Natural History, (August 2015–2019).
  • MS in Zoology, University of Florida, Gainesville, (August 2012–August 2015).
  • BS in Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, (2007-2012).
  • BS in Biology, BA in Chemistry, Karl-Franzens Universität Graz, Austria; Graduated summa cum laude (August 2010-August 2011). Participated in a direct student exchange to develop second language knowledge.

Research Interests

Kelly Speer was a Ph.D. student co-advised by Dr. Susan Perkins and Dr. Nancy Simmons. Her research interests include host-parasite interactions, population genomics, phylogeography, conservation and natural history.

Kelly’s dissertation research focuses on the impact of habitat change on disease transmission in bat communities. She will be measuring the diversity of the microbiome of bat flies and ticks, which are blood-feeding parasites of bats. The microbiome of these parasites impacts their ability to transmit pathogens between individual bats. Changes in the diversity of the microbiome caused by habitat fragmentation could therefore have important consequences for infection rate in bats. As bats, and wildlife in general, are important sources of human diseases, understanding the role vectors play in disease transmission in bat populations can improve our understanding of disease spillovers and emerging infectious diseases.

This research will build off Kelly’s previous work she conducted during her Master’s at the University of Florida. There, she worked in Dr. David Reed’s lab to examine population differentiation of bats and their associated bat flies in The Bahamas.


In Preparation:

  • Speer, K.A., B.J. Petronio, N. Simmons, D.L. Reed. Population genetics of Tadarida brasiliensis in an island system. Journal of Mammalogy.
  • Speer, K.A., and D.L. Reed. A fly on the cave wall: using bat flies to infer recent host dispersal. Journal of Biogeography.


  • Speer, K.A., J.A. Soto-Centeno, N. Albury, Z.S. Quicksall, M. Marte, D.L. Reed. A review of Bahamian bats. In revision: The Florida Museum Bulletin.


  • Kohli, B.A., K.A. Speer, C.W. Kilpatrick, N. Batsaikhan, D. Damdinbaza, J.A. Cook. 2014. Multilocus systematics and non-punctuated evolution of Holarctic Myodini (Rodentia: Arvicolinae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 76:18-29.


Teaching Experience

Teaching Assistant (August 2012 – 2015), University of Florida, Department of Biology, Gainesville. Instruction and grading of materials of three lab sections of introductory biology covering genetics, basic vertebrate anatomy, population dynamics theory, laboratory techniques, and basic statistics.