Searle Lab

Aquatic disease ecology at Purdue University



Catherine Searle
Associate Professor

Dr. Searle is on sabbatical from January - July 2024 at Universität Trier, Germany. Please direct any inquiries or questions to other members of the lab (this page) or department during this time.


Paradyse Blackwood
Ph.D. candidate

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. 

Link to website here.


Jonathan Lopez
Ph.D. student

JLo received his undergraduate degree from Sewanee: The University of the South. He is interested in the intersection of infectious disease and behavior.


Kurt Lutz
Ph.D. student

Kurt has a bachelor's and master's degree from San Francisco State University. For his master's, he studied the effect of biodiversity on disease risk in pond systems with protected species in California. He also previously worked on several land management/sensitive species programs in the Bay Area as a biological consultant.


Aura Muñiz Torres
Ph.D. student

Aura has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez and a master’s from the University of Massachusetts Boston. Her past research has been focused on amphibian disease ecology. For her PhD she is focusing on disease dynamics within amphibian community assemblages, especially focused on conservation and disease mitigation strategies.


Ethan Guardado
Purdue senior

Ethan is studying how body size impacts infection behaviors.


Emileo Peralta
Purdue junior

Emileo is studying the effects of water quality on fungal infection in amphibians.


Megan Lawson
Purdue junior

Megan is helping quantify amphibian diversity, abundance, and infection in the field.


Koby Sellner
Purdue junior


Kayla Robbins
Purdue junior


Kendall Claymon
Purdue sophomore

Lab alumni

Former graduate students

Spencer Siddons (2016-2022, Ph.D. student). Currently a postdoc at the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. Website.

Hector Zumbado-Ulate (2015-2021, Ph.D. student). Currently a postdoc at UC Riverside. Website. 

Former technicians

Ben Berggren (2022-2023) Currently a graduate student at Univeristy of North Texas. 

Kacie Jonasen (2018-2020) Currently a veterinary technician.

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

Former undergraduates:

Isabel Adarve-Rengifo. (2019). Independent project: "The effects of leaf litter on growth of the amphibian fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis."

Mariah Burgmeier. (2018-2019). Independent project: "Effects of road salts on proliferation of an amphibian fungal pathogen."

Roger Braun. (2021-2022). Independent project: "The effects of incrased salinity concentrations on different ages of Daphnia pulex."

Marin Bray (2017-2019). Independent project: "Examining differences in anuran communities between man-made and natural wetlands in central Indiana." 

Maggie Bui (2020-2022). 

Mackenzie Chapman. (2015-2018) Undergraduate honors thesis: "Resource competition and its effect on disease dynamics in freshwater zooplankton populations." 

Jasmina (Lulu) Davis (2020-2022). Honors thesis "Assessing the effect of Bd reservoir species on susceptible frog species within their geographic ranges in Costa Rica." 

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

Fabiola Fontán-Fontán (Summer 2020). REU project: "The biodiversity of zooplankton communities in permanent and temporary ponds."

Paula Galindo (Summer 2023). REU project: "Thermoregulatory dynamics: decoding the sex-based temperature preferences in Bd-infected frogs." 

Alahana González (Summer 2023). REU project: "Field pathogen shedding rates in amphibians." 

Baylie Hochstedler. (2016-2017) Undergraduate honors thesis: "Effects of resources and parasites on competition between a native and invasive zooplankton."

Juliana Ilmain. (2017-2018) Undergraduate honors thesis: "The impact of infectious disease on toxic effects in a freshwater zooplankton model."

Prasanna Janakiraman. (2017-2018)

Maggie Kelly (2022-2023)

Alana López-Cruz (Summer 2022). REU project: "The demographic effect of supplementation and the introduction of a deadly pathogen." 

Emily Martin (2019-2022). Undergraduate honors thesis: "Plant leachates impact amphibian infection with a fungal pathogen." 

Allison Milicia (2020-2021).

Ethan Muñiz (Summer 2023). REU project: "Predicting infection prevalence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis from frog calling characteristics." 

Kiersten Nelson (2018-2019). Undergraduate honors thesis: "Prevalence and infection intensity of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis across an altitudinal gradient in Costa Rica."

Amirah Nieves Medina (Summer 2022). REU project: "Variation in host competence for Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis across temperatures." 

Kaitlin O'Leary. (2014-2015) Independent project: "Inducing predator defenses in an invasive aquatic species."

Luke Papai. (2021-2022). Independent project: "Niche partitioning between American bullfrogs and green frogs."

Nicole Perry (2021-2022). 

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

Liz Rosario. (Summer 2017) REU project: "Comparison of frog call characteristics between natural and man-made habitats."

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

Jeannine Toth (2018-2020). 

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


Lab group photos

Spring 2024


Top row: JLo, Paradyse, Megan, Emileo

Front row: Kayla, Koby, Ethan, Kendall

Missing: Kurt, Aura, Cat



Summer 2023

Back row: Cat, Kurt, JLo, Ben, Alahana, Ethan M.

Front row: Emileo, Ethan G, Paradyse, Paula, Aura, Megan



Spring 2023

Top row: JLo, Aura, Kurt, Ben, Paradyse, Cat

Bottom row: Koby, Emileo, Megan, Maggie, Kayla

Missing: Ethan



Summer 2022

Top row: JLo, Ben, Cat, Emily, Stephanie

Bottom row: Alana, Amirah, Paradyse, Luke

Missing: Emileo and Ilinca



Spring 2022

Top: Emily, Lulu, Cat, Spencer

Bottom: Nicole, Maggie, Luke, Paradyse

Missing: Roger



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