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PrincipAL Investigator: Nick Keiser

Nick in SA 2019.JPG

622 Carr Hall

Department of Biology

University of Florida

Gainesville, FL 32611

Email: ckeiser [at] ufl [dot] edu

Twitter: @HiDrNic

Nick is a behavioral ecologist that studies infectious disease. He is a self-admitted study system collector with an inordinate fondness for invertebrates. He is also a mega-nerd, juggler-in-training, and loves heavy metal.

                          Graduate students                  
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Steven Cassidy

email: stevencassidy [at]

Steven is a PhD student 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.

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Sam Shablin

email: samanthashablin [at]

Sam is an NSF Graduate Research Fellow who received her B.S. in Ecology & Evolution and B.A. in History from the University of Pittsburgh. Sam is interested in the physiological underpinnings of how parasites change the behavior of infected hosts, with a focus on stress physiology.


Eric Trotman

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.


Travis Klee

email: tklee [at]

Travis is a PhD Candidate who 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.

               undergraduate researchers             

Sofia Valencia


Sofia conducts research on the behavioral and physiological underpinings of disease risk and microbial transmission in amphibians. She is currently assisting graduate student Sam Shablin on projects with green frog tadpoles, Cuban tree frogs, and coquí frogs.

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Ayana Davis


Ayana is conducting research on genetic variation in sex-differences in behavior in Drosophila fruit flies. There is extensive genetic variation in the direction and magnitude of sex-differences in immunity, and Ayana's research tests whether flies compensate for increased disease risk with greater infection avoidance behavior.

                                 lab alumni                        
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Allison Roth
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Emily Durkin, PhD

Evolutionary Ecology of Symbioses

Postdoc 2019-2021

Assistant Professor of Parasitology

University of Tampa


Allison Roth, PhD

Consequences of Animal Sociality

Postdoc 2019-2020

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


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


  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


 Taylor Shearer

   University of


 Michael Ziemba

   University of


 Krishna Kothamasu

     University of


  Lizzy Sartain

      Rice University

  Alex DeMarco

   University of


                         visiting students                    

 Mathew Luksik

      University of Virginia

       Class of 2022 


Iclal Yuksel

  University of Houston

   Class of 2020 

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