IMG_4574Top row: Daniella Kahn, Sara Zufan, Samantha Kay, Santiago Sanchez Vicente, Ching-I Huang; lower row: Max McClure, Elsbeth Kane, Katharine Walter, Maria Diuk-Wasser, Danielle Tufts, Sarah States, Giovanna Carpi, Evelyn Rynkiewicz

 Maria Diuk-Wasser – PI

Client Name: Pheterson Client Department: EMaria’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 – Webpage

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. 



 Evelyn Rynkiewicz – Postdoctoral Associate – Webpage


Evie has a background in the ecology of parasites in wild mice in the US and the UK. She applies 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. Previous work has been with 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. Evie will be working on investigating local and systemic effects of tick-borne infection on host immune response and possibly using drug treatments to better study the mechanisms of interaction between Borrelia burgdorferi and Babesia microti.

Meredith VanAcker – PhD Student – E3B Columbia


Meredith is a first year 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. She is interested in continuing to research how anthropogenic impacts, such as land alteration and habitat disturbance, changes species assemblage and patterns of pathogen transmission in the Diuk-Wasser lab. 

Katharine Walter – PhD Student Yale – Webpage


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.

 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.


Pallavi Kache – Mph Student, Mailman SPH, Columbia

pallaviPallavi is pursuing a Masters of Public Health in infectious disease epidemiology, and holds a B.S. in Public Health from The University of Texas at Austin. Her prior public health experience involved surveillance, risk factor studies, and health communications for a range of bacterial zoonoses. Her recent interests incorporate ecological and environmental sciences with epidemiological and social/behavioral health disciplines. Current research projects include the use of climate modeling, geostatistical methods (e.g. hot spot analyses, geographically weighted regression), and behavioral surveys to understand, predict, and control the spread of zoonotic and vector-borne pathogens.

Sara Zufan – Mph Student, Mailman SPH, Columbia – Webpage


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. 

Elsbeth Kane – Undergraduate Columbia E3B


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 Columbia E3B


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.

 Max McClure – Medical Student Columbia University


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.




Previous Lab Members

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.

Sarah States – Postdoctoral Associate

Sarah States

Giovanna Carpi – Associate Research Scientist

Giovanna Carpi

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.

Daniella Kahn – Undergraduate Columbia E3B


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.


Malia Carpio – MES/MPH Student Yale

Malia Carpio

Jessica Bristol – Field Assistant

IMG_4807Jessica 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!

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