My research interests are in the broad area of animal parasitology. Parasitism represents a mode of life which frequently involves multispecies assemblages and multiple stages of the same species within the life history, making them appropriate for ecological studies. Additionally, the complexity of parasite life cycles leads to interesting questions in developmental and structural biology. Prior research in my laboratory has ranged from ultrastructural studies of protozoan, helminth and arthropod parasites to questions concerning helminth and arthropod population and community ecology.
Research projects currently under way in my laboratory focus on the patterns and processes of helminth parasite communities in aquatic ecosystems. We are interested in the regulatory factors influencing these assemblages and how they respond to both biotic and abiotic ecological factors. One current project is examining the helminth parasite infracommunity within a molluscan host species. This project will soon be expanded to include the suprapopulations of parasites from amphibian definitive hosts within this ecosystem.
Another area of research in my laboratory has dealt with a group of intestinal protozoan parasites. We have studied the excystation process in the flagellate Giardia and apicomplexan Cryptosporidium. Using in vitro excystation models, we have studied subcellular developmental alterations as the parasite changes from an infective cyst to a pathogenic trophozoite stage.
Although not a major focus, another line of research has dealt with a group of economically important arthropod ectoparasites including Varroa jacobsoni, the honeybee mite, and Ixodes dammini, the primary vector of Lyme disease. Our studies in this area have dealt with both epidemiological surveys and ultrastructural development.