Searle Lab

Aquatic disease ecology at Purdue University


Cat headshot.jpg

Catherine Searle
Associate Professor


Spencer Siddons
Ph.D. candidate

Spencer is interested in amphibian ecology, disease dynamics, and conservation. He is investigating the effects of environmental stressors on host infection risk and the pathogen themselves, with a focus on processes that occur during the winter in temperate regions. Personal website.


Paradyse Blackwood
Ph.D. candidate, 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 the health and abundance of amphibian species. They are studying how varying temperatures interact with road salt pollution to impact host-parasite interactions and how disease can influence species invasions.


Emily Martin
Purdue senior

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


Jasmina (Lulu) Davis
Purdue senior

Lulu is identifying amphibian disease reserviors in the tropics.


Maggie Bui
Purdue senior


Nicole Perry
Purdue senior

Lab alumni

Former graduate students and technicians:

Kacie Jonasen (2018-2020, lab technician) Veterinary technician.

Abigail Merrick (2015-2018, lab technician & M.S. student) Environmental toxicologist at the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene.

Hector Zumbado-Ulate (2015-2021, Ph.D. student). Postdoc at UC Riverside. Personal website. 

Former undergraduates:

Isabel Adarve-Rengifo. (2019). 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). Technician at Charles River Laboratories and graduate student at Michigan State University. Independent project: "Effects of road salts on proliferation of an amphibian fungal pathogen."

Marin Bray (2017-2019). 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) Graduate student at Purdue University. Undergraduate honors thesis: "Resource competition and its effect on disease dynamics in freshwater zooplankton populations." 

Brittany Heil (Farmer) (2017-2019). Graduate student at Purdue University. Undergraduate honors thesis: "Effects of salinity on invasion in freshwater communities." 

Fabiola Fontan (Summer 2020). Senior at the University of Puerto Rico Humacao. REU project: "The biodiversity of zooplankton communities in permanent and temporary ponds."

Baylie Hochstedler. (2016-2017) 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) 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)

Allison Milicia (2020-2021).

Kiersten Nelson (2018-2019). 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) High school teacher for the Lower Kuskokwim School District. Independent project: "Inducing predator defenses in an invasive aquatic species."

Luke Papai. (Summer 2021). 

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

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

Meredith Scherer. (2019-2021). Graduate student at Purdue University. Undergraduate honors thesis: "Idenfitying tradeoffs in responses of Daphnia genotypes to a pathogen and abiotic stress."

Jeannine Toth (2018-2020). Microbiologist for Unilever.

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


Lab group photos


Lab photo

Spring 2021

Top: Cat, Emily, Spencer

Bottom: Paradyse, Meredith, Hector

Missing: Allison, Maggie, Lulu


fall 2020

Fall 2020

Top: Meredith, Cat, Spencer, Emily

Middle: Allison, Paradyse, Hector, Lulu

Bottom: Kacie, Maggie


spring 2020

Spring 2020

Top: Emily, Cat, Hector

Upper midddle: Kacie, Marin, Jeannine

Lower middle: Paradyse, Meredith, Allison

Bottom: Spencer, Kiersten


spring 2019

Spring 2019

Top: Cat, Kacie, Jeannine, David, Kiersten, Spencer

Bottom: Marin, Mariah, Hector, Brittany, Isa


spring 2018

Spring 2018:

Juliana, Spencer, Stephanie, David, Abbie, Mackenzie


fall 2017

Fall 2017

Top: Spencer, Cat, Hector, Mackenzie, Prassana, Juliana

Bottom: Abbie, Marin, Brittany, Maggie


spring 2015

Spring 2015

Cat, Abbie, Maggie, Kaitlin, Abby, Mackenzie, Alyssa