Maria Diuk-Wasser – PI

Maria’s research integrates a wide range of empirical and analytical tools to disentangle the ecological and environmental drivers for the emergence of vector-borne diseases, particularly tick-borne. Current research focuses on the role of pathogen interactions, host community composition, climate and land use change in the epidemics of multiple tick-borne pathogens in the United States. Other research interests include landscape ecology, evolutionary ecology, behavioral ecology and conservation biology.


Danielle Tufts – Postdoctoral Associate

Danielle recently joined the Diuk-Wasser lab and is interested in evolutionary genetics and how various parasite species (ecto and endo) along with pathogens affect host health and composition.

 Personal website

Evelyn Rynkiewicz – Postdoctoral Associate

Evie is a postdoctoral research scientists with a background in the ecology of parasites in wild mice in the US and the UK. I apply classic ecology tools and theories to parasite-host and parasite-parasite interactions to better understand how parasite communities assemble within hosts and how this influences individual hosts and the patterns of parasite co-infection we observe at the population and community scale. Some examples of my research are bacterial communities within host blood and multiple tick species, measuring variation in host immunity in relation to ectoparasite burden, and using targeted drug treatment of intestinal helminths and cell culture and stimulus to study local and systemic effects of parasite infection within individual hosts.

Currently, Evie is working on using controlled infections of white-footed mice with Borrelia burgdorferi and Babesia microti in the lab and transcriptomics to quantify variation in the host immune profile in relation to single and simultaneous and lagged co-infections.

Personal website

Maria del Pilar Fernandez –  Postdoctoral Associate – Earth Institute, Columbia

Pilar is an early-career biologist, graduated from the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina. Her main research interests are on the Eco-epidemiology of vector transmitted diseases, mathematical modelling and complex systems. She integrates traditional epidemiological research with an expanded perspective that includes eco-bio-social determinants, their eventual interactions and spatial patterns. Her ultimate goal is to identify critical factors affecting disease transmission, which will aid in the design of improved intervention strategies and tools to alleviate the biological and socio-economic burden of vector-borne diseases. Her past experience has been on Chagas disease research, conducted in indigenous rural communities of northern Argentina. At the Eco-epidemiology lab, she will study the dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human systems (CNHs) in tick-borne diseases in Northeast US.


 Angel Muñoz – Postdoctoral Associate

Meredith VanAcker – PhD Student – E3B Columbia

Meredith is a current PhD student and has a background in community ecology and conservation biology. Her previous master’s research examined the impacts of suburbanization on trematode infections in green frog populations. For her dissertation, she is researching how land alteration and habitat disturbance alters host movement, community assemblage and vector genomic differentiation in the Diuk-Wasser lab.


Pallavi Kache – PhD Student – E3B Columbia

Pallavi is a first-year PhD student interested in exploring how anthropogenic land-use and climate change affects vector population dynamics and vector-borne disease risk. Pallavi holds an MPH in infectious disease epidemiology, and has experience in disease surveillance and health communications at the local and national level. Her research aims to integrate health and behavioral surveys, biological fieldwork, and environmental data to develop mathematical and spatiotemporal models of disease risk.


 Max McClure – Medical Student – Columbia

Max is a Columbia medical student. Among many other infectious disease ecology topics, he is interested in off-host tick behavior and the health impacts of land use change.

Angel Weng – MPH Student – Mailman SPH, Columbia

Angel is pursuing a Masters of Public Health in Environmental Health with a certificate in climate and health. She is interested in the implications climate change will have on vector-borne diseases.

Avriel Diaz – Masters student

Avriel is a first year Masters student with a B.S. in Aquatic and Marine Science from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Her experience with infectious diseases in aquatic ecosystems during her research work with United States Geological Survey led her to move to Ecuador in July of 2016. There she helped to provide relief from the 2016 7.8 magnitude earthquake and then co-founded an NGO, Walking Palms Global Health Initiative. The NGO focuses on disaster relief, holistic recovery, and research. Her current investigations look at Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya Viruses, disease ecology, psychology, integrating ecosystem- community health, and sustainable community development.

 Lauren Hayashi – Undergraduate student  

Lauren is a fourth-year undergraduate at Barnard majoring in Environmental Science.  She is interested in climatology and epidemiology.  She is completing the pre-med track and plans to apply to medical school after graduation

Previous Lab Members

Giovanna Carpi – Associate Research Scientist

Giovanna’s research integrates population biology, ecology, genomic tools and theory to address fundamental and applied questions related to arthropod vectors, particularly tick vectors, and the pathogens they transmit. Her research interests include: (1) Developing and exploiting a genomic toolbox to investigate evolutionary history and population structure of tick vectors; (2) Probing pathogen genomics to infer the origin, patterns, and dynamics of tick-borne pathogen spread, and to identify the genetic basis of pathogen virulence; (3) Examining the contribution of diverse vertebrate hosts in pathogen transmission; (4) Investigating bacterial communities using cutting edge technologies to assess structure, function, and effect on pathogen transmission dynamics.


Sarah States – Postdoctoral Associate


Katharine Walter – PhD Student – Yale

Katharine is fascinated by the histories contained within pathogen genomes. She uses genomic information to ask questions about how pathogens evolve and how they move across space. She is particularly interested in how vector-borne and zoonotic pathogens respond to changes in climate and biodiversity. For her dissertation research, she is investigating the origins and emergence history of the Lyme disease bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi. This project incorporates spatial modeling and bacterial phylogeography to reconstruct the invasion history of the Lyme disease bacteria.

Personal website


Christina Olbrantz – MPH Student – Mailman SPH, Columbia

Christina has a background in environmental health sciences and is interested in the relationship between climate change and human health. She is interested in how changes in climate and the environment affect vector-borne diseases. Current research focuses on how environmental conditions and pathogens influence the behavior of ticks.


Sara Zufan – MPH Student – Mailman SPH, Columbia

Sara is an MPH candidate in Environmental Health Sciences with a background in ecology and evolutionary biology. She is interested in the public health impacts of anthropogenic environmental change in terms of infectious disease emergence and transmission. Currently, she is employing spatiotemporal models to predict the spread of tick-borne diseases.

Personal website


Samantha Carrie Kay – MA Student – Columbia

Samantha is interested in exploring the relationship between ecosystem and human health. Her current research lies within he interface of community ecology, disease ecology, and avian biology. For there thesis, she is examining the role of avian community composition in the transmission of Borrelia burgdorferi.


Malia Carpio – MES/MPH Student – Yale


Elsbeth Kane – Undergraduate student – E3B Columbia

Elsbeth is a 4th-year undergraduate in Columbia College who is completing a bachelors degree program in Environmental Biology. Elsbeth’s interests include zoonotic disease ecology, veterinary and comparative pathology, and conservation biology. She is also completing a pre-veterinary track at Columbia and hopes to pursue a joint DVM/MPH program upon graduation.


SoYon Jun –  Undergraduate student – E3B Columbia

My name is Soyon Jun and I am an undergraduate at Columbia University majoring in Environmental Biology and History. I am interested in conservation and public health and hope to work in the intersection of both. In particular, I am interested in how climate impacts tick behavior and how climate change will influence Lyme disease distribution in the future.


Daniella Kahn – Undergraduate student – E3B Columbia

Daniella is an undergraduate at Columbia University majoring in Environmental Biology. She is interested in zoonotic disease ecology, particularly the effects of land use on the human-animal interface and hopes to attend medical school furthering her studies in infectious disease.


Jessica Bristol – Field Assistant

Jessica is a graduate of Eastern Connecticut State University with a B.A. in biology and a minor in sustainable energy studies. This is her second field season with the lab, having previously interned at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Her primary research interests are conservation and bat ecology but she has a broad range of ecological interests and plans to pursue a masters degree in the near future.


Sarah Dube – Field Assistant

Sarah is a recent graduate of Eastern Connecticut State University with a B.S. in Biology. She is interested in conservation and ecology, and hopes to begin working on an advanced degree in ecology very soon!