Current Graduate Students


gradstudent_kellyspeer.jpgKelly Speer
Masters student - Biology Department

I am interested in understanding the evolution and community dynamics of hosts and their parasites. My current research is focused on examining population structure of free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) and the implications of this structure for obligate blood-feeding ectoparasites called bat flies (Streblidae). Bat flies are interesting ectoparasites in that they display some degree of host-specificity despite having functional wings (in some cases) and spending a third of their lives off of their host. My Master’s thesis focuses on island populations in the Bahamas, which provide a controlled system to analyze fragmentation and migration.

In the past, my research has focused on the phylogeography of northern latitude montane populations of shrews (Sorex) and voles (Clethrionomys and Alticola) in North America and Asia. In the future, I plan to pursue a Ph.D. further developing my interest and knowledge of phylogeography, biogeography, host-parasite coevolution, and phylogenetics.


Gough.jpegHarlan Gough
PhD student - Biology Department

I am interested in understanding the effects evolution and behavior have on animal populations.  My Ph.D. research will focus on how populations of Bahamian bats are structured within islands and among islands using both molecular data and mark recapture methods.  Previously I studied the effects of drought on freshwater mussel behavior and physiology. As undergraduate at Western Washington University my research focused on hybridization and speciation in two cryptic species of Rhagoletisflies.  


gradstudent_CarsonPhillips.jpgCarson Phillips
PhD student, Reed & Robinson Labs

My research focuses on the impact humans have on the ecology and transmission of parasites and emerging infectious diseases. The human population is growing exponentially and, as a result, human impact on the environment is inevitable. To meet the rising resource demands, humans alter the environment to make room for agriculture and urban development. My research investigates how different types of land use (e.g., cattle pasture, village) affects the small mammal community and how the change in their community affect the parasites they carry. Small mammals such as rodents are known to cohabitate and thrive in urban settings. Most importantly, small mammals act as main sources of emerging diseases for humans (e.g., plague). With the application of GIS and genetic analysis, I am able to investigate the impact humans have on parasites and emerging infectious diseases on a broad scale that enables us to make predictions on what impacts we can expect in other geographical regions.