Searle Lab

Aquatic disease ecology at Purdue University



Catherine Searle
Assistant Professor

B.A.: University of California - Berkeley

Ph.D.: Oregon State University

Postdoc: Georgia Tech, University of Michigan

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Hector Zumbado-Ulate
Ph.D. candidate

Hector is interested in the effects of parasites on inter-specific competition. He is studying how parasites might mediate competition in amphibians, affecting the recovery of susceptible populations after epidemics.

B.S.: University of Costa Rica

M.S.: University of Costa Rica


Spencer Siddons
Ph.D. candidate

Spencer is interested in amphibian ecology, disease dynamics, and conservation. He plans to investigate the effects of environmental stressors on host infection risk and the pathogen themselves. Personal website:

B.S.: University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point

M.S.: University of South Dakota


Paradyse Blackwood
Ph.D. student

Paradyse is interested in how environmental variation (e.g. temperature change), anthropogenic stressors, and disease interact to shape disease dynamics in amphibian species. She plans to study how varying temperatures interact with road salt pollution to impact host-parasite interactions.

B.S.: Binghamton University


Kacie Jonasen
Research technician

Kacie earned a B.S. in Zoology from Michigan State University and is working toward a M.S. in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In the Searle lab, Kacie will continue her work with Daphnia, and hopes to incorporate amphibians in future projects. ​

B.S.: Michigan State University


Kiersten Nelson
Purdue senior

Kiersten is studying the conservation and disease status of amphibians in Costa Rica. Honors thesis: "Prevalence and infection intensity of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) across an altitudinal gradient in Costa Rica." 


Marin Bray
Purdue senior

Marin is studying disease dynamics of amphibian communities in Indiana.


Brittany Farmer
Purdue senior

Brittany is investigating how abiotic stress and the genetic diversity of invasive species influences their success. Honors thesis: "Effects of salinity on invasion in freshwater communities."

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Jeannine Toth
Purdue senior

Jeannine is studying disease dynamics of amphibian communities in Indiana.


Meredith Scherer
Purdue junior


Maddison Uncapher
Purdue junior


Emily Martin
Purdue sophomore

Lab alumni

Abigail Merrick (2015-2018, M.S. student) Currently an environmental toxicologist at the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene.

Former undergraduates:

Isabel Adarve-Rengifo. (2019). Currently a senior at EAFIT University in Colombia. Independent project: "The effects of leaf litter on growth of the amphibian fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis."

Mariah Burgmeier. (2018-2019). Currently a technician at Charles River Laboratories. Independent project: "Effects of road salts on proliferation of an amphibian fungal pathogen."

Mackenzie Chapman. (2015-2018) Currently a graduate student at Purdue University. Undergraduate honors thesis: "Resource competition and its effect on disease dynamics in freshwater zooplankton populations." 

Baylie Hochstedler. (2016-2017) Currently a graduate student at Loyola University Chicago. Undergraduate honors thesis: "Effects of resources and parasites on competition between a native and invasive zooplankton."

Juliana Ilmain. (2017-2018) Currently a graduate student at New York University. Undergraduate honors thesis: "The impact of infectious disease on toxic effects in a freshwater zooplankton model."

Prasanna Janakiraman. (2017-2018) Currently a graduate student at Purdue University. 

Kaitlin O'Leary. (2014-2015) Currently a high school teacher for the Lower Kuskokwim School District. Independent project: "Inducing predator defenses in an invasive aquatic species."

David Prather. (2016-2019). Undergraduate honors thesis: "The effects of antibiotics on host-parasite dynamics in freshwater ecosystems." 

Liz Rosario. (Summer 2017) Currently a graduate student at the University of Puerto Rico. REU project: "Comparison of frog call characteristics between natural and man-made habitats."

Maggie Wigren. (2015-2016) Currently a graduate student at Purdue University. Undergraduate honors thesis:"The effects of resource availability on reproduction, competition and disease susceptibility in a native and invasive zooplankton."