New review on how predators mediate host-parasite interactions in aquatic systems!

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We’re excited that our review of how predators mediate host-parasite interactions in aquatic systems, led by former postdoc Laura Lopez, is now online at Trends in Parasitology! The article is freely available using this link until Sept 4 2021. Here’s figure 1 from the paper:

New lab publications!

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We wanted to update you on a few new publications from the lab!

Clara Shaw is the lead author on a new paper out in Parasitology based on her dissertation research! Becca Bilich and Bruce O’Brien are coauthors on this based on their work as undergraduates in the lab. The study finds phenotypic and genotypic variation in Metschnikowia bicuspidata — something we’ve looked for in the past but previously been unable to detect! Clara found that genotypic variation in Metsch is associated with host species, lake, and spore size. Here’s a graphical abstract:

Patrick Clay is the lead author on a new paper out in Ecology! This paper focuses on dose-response relationships (e.g., dose-infectivity relationships, where the likelihood of becoming infected depends on the dose of the parasite to which a host is exposed). We know these are common, but existing theory on multihost parasites does not incorporate these relationships. In this paper, we first performed a meta-analysis of published dose-infectivity experiments, finding that most experiments demonstrated decelerating (i.e., saturating) dose-infectivity relationships. We then asked how dose-response relationships alter the impact of a second host species on disease in a focal host. We found that dose relationships can increase or decrease the impact of a second host species, and also that they can create positive feedback loops that facilitate friendly competition.

Nina Wale is the lead author on a new paper out in American Naturalist! This paper explores the use — and underuse! — of model systems in studies of the ecology and evolution of infectious diseases. In this paper, we turn to theory to guide us to the fundamental processes that underlie disease dynamics — transmission, disease, and recovery. In reviewing 10 key model systems, we find that they rarely consider recovery, because the systems are ones in which hosts cannot recover. Moreover, studies tend to focus on only a few scales of biological organization. In this paper, we hope to begin a discussion of what we want from model systems in EEID. We’re gratified that this paper seems to be resonating, including by receiving a recommendation on Faculty Opinions from Mario Recker, who describes it as a “great and thought-provoking read”.

Congrats, Clara, Patrick, Nina, and coauthors!

Welcome, Siobhan!

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Today is the first day in the lab for our new technician, Siobhan Calhoun! Siobhan just graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, where she majored in Biology and minored in Fine Arts and English. We’re very excited to have her in the lab!

We had a lab gathering yesterday to welcome Siobhan and Kira (our new lab manager, who began last week) and to thank Becca (who will be heading off to med school soon) for all she’s done for the lab over the years. The weather was gorgeous and we actually remembered to take a group photo (it’s a miracle!)

Left to right: Marcin, Patrick, Becca, Kira, Siobhan, Libby, Meghan, Kristel, Michelle (not shown: Katie, Varun)

Duffy Lab folks move to public health positions!

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Three Duffy Lab folks have moved (or will soon move) on to positions in public health! In order of leaving the lab:

Camden Gowler (PhD 2020) is now a Public Health Analyst at the CDC in Atlanta. He’s working in the Division of Healthcare and Quality Promotion, and is currently deployed on the COVID response. This position lets Camden apply his disease ecology skills in an applied public health setting.

Laura Lopez (postdoc 2018-2021) just began a position with the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance in Australia, where she is working as a research officer in their AusVaxSafety unit. This will let Laura apply her data analysis and research skills to monitoring COVID vaccines in Australia.

Patrick Clay (postdoc 2019-2021) will begin a Steven M. Teutsch Prevention Effectiveness Fellowship at the CDC later this summer, where he will work in the Division of STD Prevention. This fellowship brings people with strong quantitative skills to the CDC, and will let Patrick take his disease modeling skills and apply them to STDs in people.

We’re sad about Camden, Laura, and Patrick leaving the lab, but also really excited about their new positions!

Day of firsts!

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Today is the first day in the lab for our new lab manager, Kira Monell, and for our REU student, Varun Ravichandran. Welcome, Kira and Varun! Kira recently received her Masters from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, where she studied the ecophysiology of copepods, carrying out field work in Alaska. Varun is a UMich undergraduate who is majoring in Movement Science and minoring in Applied Statistics. We’re excited about having both of them in the lab!

Today is also the first day of field season! In addition to carrying out our normal sampling, Becca and Libby are deploying thermistor chains that relate to a project Libby is leading this summer. Here’s a picture of one thermistor chain that is ready to be deployed — it turns out the field cages in the basement of BSB provide convenient holds for thermistor chain construction! More pictures coming later once Becca & Libby are back from the field!

Photo by Libby Davenport

Lots of interest in Michelle’s recent Ecology paper!

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Michelle recently did an interview with WKAR, Michigan State University’s NPR station. She was talking about her dissertation research (published in Ecology) looking at how the diversity of bees and other pollinators relates to the frequency of three common viruses in the region.

Here’s a link to the WKAR story, here’s a UMich news story about her study, here’s a piece by The Wildlife Society, and here’s a link to a recent talk that Michelle recently gave hosted by Michigan State University Extension.

A European honeybee (Apis mellifera) flying to a squash flower. Both managed honeybee colonies and wild native bees pollinate Michigan winter squash flowers. Honeybees were found at all 14 farms included in the University of Michigan study, along with a diverse array of native bees. Image credit: Michelle Fearon
A European honeybee (Apis mellifera) flying to a squash flower. Image credit: Michelle Fearon

Congratulations, Kristel and Michelle!

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EEB’s Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee recently announced that the winner of the Inaugural EEB JEDI Award is the BioBlitz Planning Committee, recognizing their work organizing and planning the annual University of Michigan BioBlitz event. Duffy Lab members Kristel Sánchez and Michelle Fearon have both served on the planning committee — congratulations to them and their fellow BioBlitz planning committee members on the award! Thank you for all your work on this exciting event!

Kristel gets a double congratulations, because she also received an honorable mention for her tireless JEDI efforts on many fronts throughout her time in the program! In addition to working on BioBlitz, Kristel has: served on the department JEDI Committee; voluteers with En Nuestra Lengua, a weekly program for bilingual children in Ann Arbor; started Feria de Ciencias, a scientist spotlight event held in Spanish; and been involved in EcoDia, an event held in Mexico for children ages 5-12 from rural communities in Chiapas. Kristel also has been a thoughtful mentor to undergraduate researchers in the lab from a variety of backgrounds. Thanks for all you do, Kristel!

More information about the inaugural awards can be found here.

The (relatively) large binoculars did not discourage this curious naturalist. Image: Michelle Fearon.
Photo by Michelle Fearon, taken from https://lsa.umich.edu/eeb/news-events/all-news/search-news/bioblitz-committee-wins-inaugural-eeb-jedi-award.html

Congratulations, Haley!

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Congratulations to Haley Essington who just graduated with High Honors in recognition of her excellent undergraduate honors thesis on virulence evolution in the Daphnia-Pasteuria system! We’ve loved having Haley in the lab, and look forward to hearing about her adventures in Spain!

Congratulations to Libby and Teresa!

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Current first year Duffy Lab graduate student Libby Davenport had two pieces of great news recently: she received an Honorable Mention in the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program competition, and the paper resulting from her undergraduate honors thesis was published in the journal Evolution! You can read more about fitness effects of spontaneous mutations in a warming world here! Libby is currently gearing up for her first field season here in Michigan, including by ordering a rather impressive number of data loggers.

Incoming Duffy Lab graduate student Teresa Sauer also got great news: she received an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship! Teresa will be moving to Ann Arbor this summer, and is very interested in doing work at the intersection of ecosystem ecology & disease ecology; you can read more about her plans here. We’re very excited about Teresa joining the lab!

Congrats, Libby & Teresa!

Above left: Libby Davenport; above right: Teresa Sauer