Viruses are the most abundant biological entity on Earth, yet little is known about the role ecology plays in their diversity and distribution. My Ph.D. dissertation explores the impact of host traits, such as size, species, and sex, on patterns of viral communities, following one central question: if we categorize viruses into “species”, can we use ecology to determine the factors that influence viral transmission and infection?
I work with bat hosts, specifically, as bats are highly mobile, abundant, and social animals, with over 1,300 species worldwide. This provides an opportunity for viral sharing among multiple individuals and species. By delving into the ecological factors at play shaping viral communities, I hope to minimize the fear of bats as unique carriers of human diseases.
Blending analogous concepts of ecology, virology, parasitology, and epidemiology, my research becomes inherently interdisciplinary.
My work incorporates:
Rigorous bat sampling campaigns in the field
Extensive laboratory components focusing on viral discovery
Systematic and taxonomic work necessary to recognize unique viruses