I am an ecologist who uses a combination of field research and molecular techniques to study microbial diversity in natural ecosystems, including soils and ticks. I study the environmental and microbiological factors that influence how Lyme disease risk varies across forested ecosystems in southern Vermont by performing epidemiological monitoring of the black-legged tick (also known as the “deer tick”) densities and by testing these ticks for infection with Borrelia burgdorferi (the Lyme disease pathogen), Anaplasma phagocytophilum (the causative agent of Anaplasmosis) and Babesia microti, which causes Human Babesiosis. Using next generation sequencing I characterize the assembly of bacteria, fungi and protists inhabiting the black-legged tick and seek to understand how this microbiota may influence disease transmission. In addition to this microbiome research, I am participating in a whole-genome sequencing project to study genetic variation of the black-legged ticks collected in Vermont, USA and Quebec, Canada, and how the genetics of the black-legged tick may influence their susceptibility to infection with human pathogens. Finally, I am developing a DNA-based test to determine the identity of the blood meal hosts of questing black-legged ticks, information that remains elusive but that could enhance our understanding of how black-legged tick populations are maintained in nature. My research is carried out in collaboration with students at Vermonst State University. If you are interested in getting involved or would like to learn more send me a message!