Searle Lab

Aquatic disease ecology at Purdue University


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Catherine Searle
Assistant Professor

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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.


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:


Paradyse Blackwood
Ph.D. student, NSF Graduate Research Fellow, Purdue Doctoral Fellow

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.


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. ​


Meredith Scherer
Purdue senior

Meredith is studying potential tradeoffs in salinity tolerance of freshwater organisms.


Maddison Uncapher
Purdue senior


Emily Martin
Purdue junior

Emily is studying the effects of leaf litter on disease in amphibians.


Jasmina (Lulu) Davis
Purdue senior

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Allison Milicia
Purdue sophomore


Fabiola Fontan
Summer REU student

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."

Marin Bray (2017-2019). Currently a graduate student at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Independent project: "Examining differences in anuran communities between man-made and natural wetlands in central Indiana." 

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." 

Brittany Farmer (2017-2019). Undergraduate honors thesis: "Effects of salinity on invasion in freshwater communities." 

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. 

Kiersten Nelson (2018-2019). Currently a graduate student at the University of Georgia. Undergraduate honors thesis: "Prevalence and infection intensity of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis across an altitudinal gradient in Costa Rica."

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."

Jeannine Toth (2018-2020). Currently a microbiologist for Unilever.

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."