research team mentors
Solny Adalsteinsson, PhD (Entomology and Wildlife Ecology)
Staff Scientist, Tyson Research Center
Research focus for summer 2018
We study infectious diseases - particularly those transmitted by ticks - from an ecological perspective. Our team focuses on applied research questions about how human-impacts on the environment affect the interactions among vectors, wildlife hosts, and pathogens.
Research activities during summer 2018 will be built around a large-scale experiment, in which we are studying the long-term effects of prescribed fire on tick-borne disease ecology. We will be collecting data to understand how controlled burns impact tick and wildlife abundance, diversity, and behavior.
Summer research fellows will gain experience with a diverse set of field and laboratory methods. In the field, fellows will learn to use GPS units, to trap ticks with dry ice baiting, to mist-net and handle birds, and to survey for deer activity with pellet counts. In the lab, fellows will gain skills in microscopy and arthropod identification. Depending on an individual's level of interest, he/she/they may also receive training in R programming language to run statistical analyses.
Data collection is largely field-based, and conditions are often hot and humid. Research plots are in forests on steep slopes with rocky terrain. We frequently encounter ticks, mosquitoes, and biting insects; occasionally we are lucky enough to see a timber rattlesnake!
Team structure and opportunities for independent research
We encourage research fellows to develop independent or collaborative research projects, and we make time to guide them through the process of experimental design, data collection, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of results. Our lab group collaborates closely with the Medley lab, and weekly lab meetings will often involve individuals from both groups.