David Civitello 


Assistant Professor of Biology

PhD – Indiana University, 2013

BA – Colby College, 2006


Research Staff

Rachel Hartman


B.S. Marine Science- University of South Carolina

M.S. Marine and Atmospheric Science- Stony Brook University

I have been the lab manager for the Civitello lab since March 2017. I train most of the new undergraduate volunteers, help the grad students with their experiments, and conduct my own research projects. I currently have two ongoing research projects, which examine the effects of food quality and competition on snail growth and cercarial production. I am the point of contact for new undergraduate volunteers, so if you are interested in research experience you should reach out to me. In my free time I enjoy running, podcasts, and hanging with my cat named Buffy.



Postdoctoral Fellows

Karena Nguyen  

Ph.D., Integrative Biology, University of South Florida, 2019

B.S., Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology, Saint Louis University, 2014

I received my PhD in Integrative Biology at the University of South Florida, where I examined the impact of temperature on the human parasite Schistosoma mansoni and its intermediate snail host, Biomphalaria glabrata. I also conducted research using microbial source tracking (MST) to identify sources of fecal contamination in impacted water bodies in central Florida. Currently, I am an IRACDA/FIRST Fellow and am teaching at Morehouse College. I am also working on a project with Drs. Civitello and Matthew Freeman (Rollins School of Public Health) to characterize the epidemiological impact of human-cattle hybrid schistosomes in Tanzania. In my free time, I enjoy weightlifting, cooking, eating, reading, and traveling! To learn more, please visit my website:

Aniruddha Belsare

Ph.D., Wildlife Sciences, University of Missouri, 2013.

B.V.Sc. & A,H, Bombay Veterinary College, Mumbai, India, 1996.

I am a disease ecologist with a background in veterinary medicine, disease modeling, and conservation research. My research interests primarily lie at the interface of ecology and epidemiology, and include host-pathogen systems that are of conservation and/or public health concern. Within this context, I focus on emerging and novel pathogens (e.g., chronic wasting disease), zoonoses (e.g., West Nile virus, Baylisascariasis, leptospirosis, rabies), and pathogen spillover at the human-domestic-wildlife interface (e.g., canine distemper, bighorn sheep pneumonia). One of the main goals of my research is to develop model-based disease management tools that help address the public health and wildlife health/conservation challenges.

Naima Starkloff

Ph.D. Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, State University of New York, Albany, 2020

B.A. Ecology & Evolution, Bennington College, 2015

My research interests lie in understanding the factors that determine the diversity of and interactions within biological communities, with a special interest in host-parasite interactions. For my Ph.D., I developed my own study system to investigate the diversity of immunogenetics and avian malaria parasites in a clade of North American songbirds. Thereafter, I spent a year as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Davidson College and continued to develop my teaching pedagogy rooted in biological rigor, active learning, and anti-oppressive classroom practices. As a postdoctoral researcher in the Civitello lab, I will be focusing on the spatial and temporal variation of Schistosoma species of human concern in Tanzanian snails. I am especially interested in how environmental gradients and interspecific interactions may impact transmission potential within this neglected tropical disease system. In my free time, I enjoy everything food-related, traveling, good friends, and hanging out with my cat Luna.


Graduate Students

Ph.D. Class of 2016

Daniel Desautels 


B.S. Microbiology; Life Sciences Communication from the University of Wisconsin-Madison

I am a PhD candidate in the Population Biology, Ecology and Evolution (PBEE) program. I am interested in understanding how environmental factors affect host-parasite dynamics. Specifically, I am interested in understanding how the presence of invasive plant species alters host-parasite dynamics in the snail-schistosome system. My goal is to develop invasive plant management policies that do not inadvertently increase the risk of human schistosome infections.

Ph.D. Class of 2017

Sandra Mendiola

B.S. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University

I am a PhD candidate in Emory’s Population Biology, Ecology, and Evolution program where I am co-advised by Drs. Nicole Gerardo and Dave Civitello. I am broadly interested in leveraging insects’ symbiotic microbes to control populations of insect pests and vectors in agricultural systems. My dissertation research explores the effects of symbioses on vector biology and its consequences for pathogen transmission at both the individual and population scale.

Kelsey Shaw 


B.S. in Biology and Evolutionary Anthropology, Duke University

D.V.M., Cornell University

After obtaining my veterinary degree, I spent some time in equine private practice in Northern California. However, I found myself continually dissatisfied with the unanswered questions I encountered in clinical medicine, and I decided to pursue a career in research. Generally, I am interested in host-parasite interactions across scales and eco-immunology. I am currently a third year PhD student in Population Biology, Ecology, and Evolution studying the impact of host traits and community composition on schistosome transmission. Outside of lab I enjoy running and hiking, especially with my two dogs, Kevin and Ben.

Ph.D. Class of 2018

KM Barnett 


B.S. in Entomology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

I am a PhD student interested in disease ecology research that can inform evidence-based wildlife conservation policies. I am currently working on a project to assess if inducing acquired resistance to Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is a feasible and efficacious intervention for managing chytrid fungus outbreaks.

Lynda Bradley 


B.S. Biophysics and biochemistry, Oregon State University

I am interested in developing ecological theories/models that can predict how different runoff impacts population/community dynamics, including parasite loads in lakes. More generally, I care about making predictions that are robust and also practical for natural resource management and policy at intersections of public health, agriculture, and climate science. I also strive to improve my science communication/writing, especially to rural communities, amplify voices of color, and uplift queer people in STEM. In my free time, I love being outside, crafting, playing music with good friends, and petting cats.

Xorla Ocloo 


B.S. Integrative Biology-University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign

M.S. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology-University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

I am a PhD student interested in coupled human–environment systems. My interest is motivated by the need to improve food security, particularly in west African communities. My current research investigates the usage of aquatic plants as a biofertilizer for crops. I worked in the Cáceres Lab investigating the effects of zooplankton and habitat types on the abundance of mosquitoes, and also worked in the Cortés-Ortiz Lab exploring the evolutionary histories of howler monkeys and their parasitic pinworms. In my free time, I enjoy playing sports and traveling the world.

Lab Alumni

Matthew Malishev
Postdoctoral Researcher, 2018 – 2020
Twitter: @darwinanddavis