I am broadly interested in the composition, function, and resilience of microbial communities. I work with several different study systems, including amphibians, insects, and fermented foods, always around the central theme of understanding what determines the composition of microbial communities, their interactions pathogenic invaders, their impacts on their hosts or environments, and their resilience (how they recover from disturbances). I focus on basic science that can inform applied needs in human health, wildlife conservation, and environmental sustainability.
My ICEMHH pilot project aims to build research capacity to connect molecular and organismal processes to population disease dynamics. Disease processes occur at two levels: clinically at the individual level, and epidemiologically at the population level. However, individual and population-level processes are linked because disease symptoms in individuals affect the probability of transmission of infection to others. There is a need to better understand the links across scales. The project leverages the strengths of the laboratory model Drosophila melanogaster together with the diversity of Hawaiian Drosophila species and their environments to develop tools and preliminary data. These tools and data will expand our capacity to understand how pathogen-microbiome interactions affect disease transmission and dynamics in wild host populations.
Integrative Center for Environmental Microbiomes and Human Health