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PrincipAL Investigator: Nick Keiser

622 Carr Hall

Department of Biology

University of Florida

Gainesville, FL 32611

Email: ckeiser [at] ufl [dot] edu

Nick is a behavioral ecologist that studies infectious diseases. In general, he is interested in spiders, flies, and their parasites, though his students have taken the lab's research in countless more directions. He also spends much time watching monster movies, reading sword & sorcery paperbacks, juggling, and listening to heavy metal.

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Steven Cassidy

PhD Candidate

stevencassidy [at]

Steven is interested in how behavior can influence species interactions. He completed his B.S. in Ecology and Evolution at the University of Pittsburgh studying plant ecology. As an undergrad, Steven studied mutualism disruption in understory plants, and then worked as a lab technician studying how herbivory impacts the evolution of the plant root microbiome. He is currently studying the the causes and consequences of polydomy in the African social spider Stegodyphus dumicola.


Eric Trotman

PhD Student

email: eric.trotman [at]

Eric is a recent graduate from the University of Florida, where he earned his B.S. in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation. During undergrad, through the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program, he studied how habitat composition affects the provisioning rate of the Southeastern American kestrel. Eric also partnered with the San Diego Zoo Recovery Ecology team on their reintroduction study of the mountain yellow-legged frog, focusing on how early life history events may affect survival in the wild. During his Ph.D., Eric plans to study how multi-host parasites affect the behavior of intermediate hosts using a One Health framework.


Katie Van Havel

MSc Student

email: kathryn.vanhavel [at]

Katie received her undergraduate degree from the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA), where she majored in biology and received her commission to the United States Air Force as an Intelligence officer. She is on scholarship to receive her masters degree to support a future teaching role at USAFA. Katie's research will focus on wolf spiders behavioral responses to biotic and abiotic stressors. She is an avid bookworm and flipped over too many rocks looking for bugs as a kid.


Travis Klee

PhD Candidate

email: tklee [at]

Travis received his B.S. in Zoology from Colorado State University. During his undergrad, Travis worked with Trinidadian Guppies (Poecilia reticulata) and their pike cichlid predators (Crenicichla frenata) where he became interested in predator-prey interactions and how predators and prey respond to each other through phenotypic plasticity. During his PhD he has expanded on this interest using empirical studies in various study systems and theoretical models to better understand how both predator and prey plasticity influence their interactions over time. Travis is an outdoor enthusiast who loves mountain biking, snowboarding, scuba diving, and just spending time outside with his wife and two sons. Travis is co-advised by Dr. Colette St. Mary.

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Abigail Pope

Undergraduate researcher working on the behavioral and environmental aspects of arthropod vectors of disease.

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Kamili Henry

Undergraduate researcher working with the SPDR Collection and the effects of fungal infection on spider behavior.


Ila Gapinski

Undergraduate researcher interested in chemical ecology and natural products research.

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Devin Travers

Undergraduate researcher interested in spider behavior and ecology.

                             LAB ALUMNI                            
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Emily Durkin, PhD

Postdoc 2019-2021

Assistant Professor of Parasitology

University of Tampa


Allison Roth

Allison Roth, PhD

Postdoc 2019-2020

University of Missouri Preparing Future Faculty Postdoctoral Program


Sofia Valencia

Former undergraduate researcher. Currently in medical school.

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Ayana Davis

Former undergraduate researcher.

Currently working at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.

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Elise Richardson

MSc Student 2019-2021

Thesis Title: A multi-scale assessment of the effects on pathogen infection on tick host-seeking behavior.

Currently a PhD student at NC State.

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Samantha Shablin

MSc Student 2019-2023

Thesis Title: Assessing the interconnected behavioral and physiological underpinnings of host responses to infection. Currently working at Disney's Animal Kingdom in the animal physiology group.

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Bhanu Musuluri

SPDR Collection Webmaster 2023


Tim Colston, PhD

Assistant Professor

University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez


Tim is a herpetologist by training, but his research integrates biogeography, evolutionary ecology, and host-microbiome interactions. We are currently collaborating on a project focusing on venom evolution and venom-associated microbiomes in social spiders.


Initiative for Venom Associated Microbes and Parasites (iVAMP)


iVAMP is a collaborative, open-source group of researchers worldwide of all career stages and types with the shared interest to expand the reach of each other’s work as well as the direction of the field of venom microbiomics.

PDF of our first paper describing the field of venom microbiomics and introducing iVAMP.

                  Former undergraduates                  
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Yinlu Zhu

   University of


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Emily Stone

   University of


Brittney Jabot

   University of


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Alex Piriz

Nick Dolezal

Joshua Vildor

Samantha Stein

Dylan Vega

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Gloria Johnson

   University of


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Arletys Leyva

University of


 Michael Ziemba

   University of


 Krishna Kothamasu

     University of


  Emma Every

 Rice University


 Anu Dwarampudi

    Rice University

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Tram-Anh Tran

   University of


   Imani Butler

      Rice University

Celina Tran

  Rice University

  Haley Uustal

      Rice University

       Evan Shegog

          Rice University


  Lizzy Sartain

      Rice University

                         visiting students                    

 Mathew Luksik

      University of Virginia

       Class of 2022 


Iclal Yuksel

  University of Houston

   Class of 2020 

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 Andrew Luksik

      University of Virginia

       Class of 2027 

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