Picture of MINCHELLA

DENNIS J. MINCHELLA

50% Biology, 50% College of Science
Professor
Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education, College of Science
LILY 1-122
Phone: 765-494-8188

Drawing upon both molecular and experimental field approaches, research in my laboratory focuses on the population biology, evolution, and genetics of host-parasite interactions.  The research program encompasses host-parasite coevolution, parasite competition and the evolution of disease, the genetic structure of parasite populations, and gene transfer between parasites and their hosts (See Projects page for overviews).

Variation in host-life history patterns may be a result of a parasite adaptation, a host adaptation or a non-adaptive side effect of the interaction. Genetic heterogeneity of hosts and parasites fuels the coevolutionary arms race leading to an array of varied outcomes. Using snail-trematode systems as models, we have demonstrated that hosts potentially modify the outcome of parasitic infection either by resisting infection (immunity) or varying other life-history parameters. Combinations of field observation and laboratory experimentation are utilized to better understand the interaction between host-parasite coevolution and variations in host-life-history.

Interactions between trematodes and their snail hosts influence parasite genetic systems and impact on disease epidemiology in humans. Microsatellite DNA sequences are used to quantify host and parasite genetic heterogeneity in natural populations across space and through time. Currently, we are combining mathematical models and empirical field studies to assess and predict the genetic population structure of human schistosomes. Results will yield evolutionary insights into the epidemiological process, help identify genetic consequences of control strategies, and complement concurrent immuno-epidemiology studies of humans in endemic Brazilian communities.

Education

Ph.D., Purdue, 1981

Professional Faculty Research

(Population biology; genetics) Host-parasite coevolution; influence of parasitism on host life-history patterns; molecular ecology and genetics; genetic diversity of parasite populations

Awards

  • Purdue University Book of Great Teachers, 1999
  • Chiscon Undergraduate Teaching Award, 2002
  • Seeds for Success Award, 2004
  • Outstanding Teacher in College of Science, 2005
  • Purdue University Nominee for U.S. Outstanding Professor of the Year, 2011
  • Professional Achievement Award - College of Science, 2012

Grants

Collaborative Research: Modeling Complex Dynamics of Host-Parasite Interactions (2007-2011)  NSF

An Adaption of a Research-Based Laboratory Model to Life Sciences (2010-2013) NSF

Deviating from the Standard: Integrating Statistical Analysis and Experimental Design into Life Science Education (2010-2014) HHMI

A Challenge in Life Science Undergraduate Education: NEXUS (2011-2015)  HHMI

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