THE MURDOCK LAB

Halloween 2016
Halloween 2018

 

 

Lab Head: Courtney C. Murdock

 

                 

                                                                         Assistant Professor 

 

                                                                         260 Veterinary Medicine

                                                                         Department of Infectious Diseases

                                                                         College of Veterinary Medicine

                                                                         Odum School of Ecology

                                                                         University of Georgia, Athens GA 30602

 

                                                                         Contact: cmurdock@uga.edu; 706-542-2083

                                                                          

 

                                                               

Research Scientists and Post-doctoral Researchers:

 

   Ash Pathak

 

 

 

                                                                                                      Assistant Research Scientist (Aug 2015-present)

                                                             A-5 Veterinary Medicine

                                                             Department of Infectious Diseases

                                                                          College of Veterinary Medicine

                                                 

                                                             Contact: ash1@uga.edu

 

 

 

In the Murdock lab, I am looking at how within- and between-host factors modulate transmission of Plasmodium species from mosquito vectors. Temperature, humidity and food availability are fundamental to insect fitness and survival, yet, relatively little is known about how they interface with mosquito biology and especially how this affects vectorial capacity. I am using holistic, -omics based approaches to investigate the immuno-physiological dynamics of Anopheles species in response to the above-mentioned factors and the corresponding changes in survival and shedding of Plasmodium falciparum.      

 

    Christine Reitmayer

                                                     Postdoctoral Researcher (Aug 2016-Jul 2018)

                                                                Now at The Pirbright Institute

                                                                             Contact: christine.reitmayer@pirbright.ac.uk

 

Insects are the most successful group of animals on the planet and different species can be beneficial or detrimental to humans.  During my PhD studies at the University of Southampton, UK, I focused on the effects of air pollutants on honey bees - one of the most important pollinators of food crops.  I became interested in novel and sustainable approaches to fight insect pests and disease vectors without impacting beneficial species such as honey bees.  In my work at the University of Georgia, I am interested in the insect vector Aedes aegypti, which functions as a vector for a range of pathogenic viruses, such as dengue, Zika, and chikungunya.  I am exploring the mechanisms of female mate choice and how this correlates with immunological traits in their male mates and their resulting offspring.  I am also interested in the implications of this choice on mosquito transmission potential.  Increasing our understanding of mating behavior and consequences for transmission will help optimize novel vector control technologies in the field. 

Graduate Students:

 

 

 

   Blanka Tesla

 

 

                                                       

 

                                                                          PhD student (Aug 2015 - present)

                                                              247 Veterinary Medicine

                                                                           Department of Infectious Diseases

                                                                           College of Veterinary Medicine

                                     

                                                                           Contact: tesla.uga@gmail.com

 

 

My primary research interests are vector-borne infectious diseases. In particular, I am interested in the Aedes and arbovirus system (chikungunya, Zika, and dengue) from both an ecological and molecular perspective. I am looking forward to exploring the effect of climate and environmental factors on the vector-pathogen interaction and the vector’s capability to transmit the disease. Likewise, I would like to investigate the early events that occur in virus infections (i.e. mechanisms of enveloped virus entry into the host cell).

 

   Kerri Miazgowicz (NSF GRFP doctoral fellow)

 

                                                          PhD student (Jan 2016 - present)

                                                                247 Veterinary Medicine

                                                                             Department of Infectious Diseases

                                                                             College of Veterinary Medicine

 

                                                                             Contact: kerri.miazgowicz25@uga.edu

 

Broadly, I am interested in exploring the ecological drivers of mosquito-borne disease transmission. My research investigates the role of the environment in the interface of mosquito biology and pathogen development, and ultimately vectorial capacity. Laboratory and field components will be integrated with mathematical modelling to gain a better understanding of disease dynamics within mosquito populations. Currently, I am using the Zika virus - Aedes albopictus Aedes aegypti system and the Anopheles stephensi - human malaria system to address these questions.

 

   Michelle Evans (NSF GRFP doctoral fellow)

 

                                                               

                                                         

                                                                      PhD student (Aug 2016 - present)

                                                                             136 Ecology Building

                                                                             Odum School of Ecology

                                                                

                                                                             Contact: mvevans@uga.edu

                                                                              

 

 

 

 

I am interested in the effects of land-use change on vector-borne disease dynamics and ecology. Specifically, my research is focused on how mosquito ecology shifts across an urban landscape to influence human risk of mosquito-borne disease (e.g dengue and Zika).  I approach this problem from an interdisciplinary perspective, incorporating the social, ecological, and political complexities characteristic of urban systems.

   Nicole Solano (IDEAS NSF Fellow)

                                                                      PhD student (Aug 2017 - present)

                                                                             136 Ecology Building

                                                                             Odum School of Ecology

                                                                

                                                                             Contact: nsolano@uga.edu

I am interested in exploring the effect of larval interspecific competition on adult mosquito community dynamics and fitness with regards to disease transmission, how the outcome of competition is mediated by variation in microclimate due to land use change, and how mathematical models could use these data for broad-scale predictions about human disease transmission.

   Mike Newberry (IDEAS NSF Fellow)

                                                                      PhD student (Aug 2017 - present)

                                                                             136 Ecology Building

                                                                             Odum School of Ecology

                                                                

                                                                             Contact: PMnewberry@uga.edu

I am investigating the interaction of the microbiome, the mosquito vector, and environmental factors. This includes examining within host and outside host microbial communities and observing how they vary across land use and season. I also intend to empirically determine the impacts of the microbiome on the vectorial capacity and life history traits of Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. My overall goal is to utilize a line of questioning that spans multiple scales of ecology to better understand abiotic and biotic drivers of vector-borne disease transmission.

Research Technicians:

   Adam McHugh

   

    Insectary and Parasite technician

     247 Veterinary Medicine

 

     amchugh@uga.edu

Undergraduate Researchers and Volunteers:

    Lilith South (Spring 2018, REU student 2018, Aug 2018 - present)

 

 

     Sydney Habegger (Summer 2018 - present)

 

 

     Alyssa Slicko (REU student, 2018)

 

 

     Carl Hintz (REU student, 2017)

 

 

     Lindsey Jones (REU student, 2017)

 

 

     Emily Cook (Georgia Veterinay Scholar, 2017)

 

 

     Justine Shiau (Fall 2016 - July 2018)

 

 

     Jack Owen (Spring 2016 - Spring 2017)

 

 

     Diana Diaz (Summer 2016 - Fall 2016)

 

 

     Kavya Balaji (Fall 2016 - Spring 2018)

 

 

     Nicole Solano (REU student, 2016)

 

 

     Temitayo Andanlawo (REU student, 2016)

 

 

     Taylor McClanahan (REU student, 2015)

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