We are Dr. Sarah Zohdy’s Disease Ecology Lab!
Dr. Sarah Zohdy, is an Assistant Professor of Disease Ecology in the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences and College of Veterinary Medicine at Auburn University.
Bernadette Rabaoarivola (Menja ) is our lead medical entomologist in Madagascar. She has worked as a field technician for Centre Val Bio in Ranomafana, Madagascar since 1999 on a wide range of projects. Menja is the heart of our mosquito research, and the local expert in Ranomafana. She began working with us in 2013, and has been managing our field teams and activities since 2015. Menja also plays a very important role in education and outreach, teaching people about the importance of mosquito vector control in and around Malagasy communities. She also trains children in basic biology and what mosquitoes can teach us about the natural world.
Shelby Zikeli is a graduate student working on an M.S in Wildlife Science and hopes to continue at Auburn for a PhD. She received her B.S in Science from California University of Pennsylvania. Past research includes; studying the presence of Toxoplasma gondii in Madagascar’s small rodents as well as aiding in a long -term study of the relationships between native and invasive species in Ronamafana National Park, Madagascar. She is currently working on small mammal research relating to Lyme disease and the abundance and distribution of its small-mammal host species in Alabama.
Aaron Tormanen is a student at Auburn University pursuing an M.S. in Wildlife Sciences and received his B.S. in Biology with a minor in Communications from Washington State University. He is interested in studying the relationships between the invasive Aedes albopictus mosquito and its hosts along the Alabama Gulf Coast. This research focuses on small mammals and livestock, and has implications to the spread of human diseases such as Zika virus. Aaron has worked as a technician on other projects in the field of invasion ecology involving knotweed eradication and the impacts of birds on farms, part of which has implications to West Nile virus transmission. He is also looking at the relationships between mosquito distribution and habitat structure from the data he collected on the latter project and hopes to study similar relationships here at AU. Aaron has also helped with a project focused on biology education in middle school classrooms and hopes to pursue a career in academia.
is a student at Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. She graduated summa cum laude from Eastern Kentucky University with her Bachelor of Science. Victoria was recently accepted into the Merial Summer Scholars Research Program through the College of Veterinary Medicine. This summer she will travel to Madagascar with Dr. Sarah Zohdy to study the ecological drivers of diseases in both humans and animals, especially lemurs. They will take a One Health approach to improving wildlife conservation while simultaneously improving human health.
received her B.S. in Biology and Exercise Science from the University of Louisville, as well as her Master of Public Health with a concentration in Epidemiology from the University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences. Her past research includes spinal cord injury locomotor rehabilitation, perception and use of tobacco and tobacco related products in vulnerable populations, and community health and asthma. She is currently working towards a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. Her research interests include zoonotic diseases, field epidemiology, emerging infectious diseases, and the One Health approach to medicine and research. In her spare time she enjoys rock climbing, snowboarding, baking, and traveling. Her future aspiration includes integrating veterinary medicine and public health in the protection of population health and prevention of infectious diseases.
Llandess Owens is a senior majoring in Microbial, Cellular, & Molecular Biology and is currently a leader in the College of Sciences and Mathematics. After graduation, Llandess would like to attend graduate school in pursuit of earning her Master’s degree in cellular biology and is considering attaining her Ph.D. in similar studies. She is currently interested in disease ecology, parasitology, and immunology, and would like to eventually obtain a career in any of these fields. Llandess is now assisting Dr. Zohdy’s lab in Malagasy mosquito research in determining locations where malaria is most present, identifying popular species of mosquitoes that most frequently serve as vectors, and identifying risk factors that contribute to infection. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music, watching scary/suspenseful movies, and/or getting a fresh pedicure.
Victoria Ashby is a freshman at Auburn University working towards a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology with Pre-Vet concentration along with a double minor in Public Health and Natural Resources Ecology. She has a strong interest in exploring infectious disease ecology research, and hopes to pursue a career in veterinary epidemiology surrounding the One Health Initiative.
Jordan Broadhead is a junior in Wildlife Sciences Pre-Vet and is currently Vice President of the Wildlife Society and a School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences Student Ambassador. After graduation he would like to attend vet school and pursue a career in zoonotic disease research. His current research interest is rodent-eating snakes and their impact on disease reservoir populations in the eastern rain forests of Madagascar. In his free time he enjoys caring for his eleven snakes and two aquariums, working out, and spending time outdoors.
Seth Rankins is working on his B. S. in Wildlife Ecology and Management. His current research project focuses on the detection of Ehrlichia spp. and Anaplasma spp. in in white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). Additionally, he is interested in identifying what morphological characteristics influence an individual deer’s susceptibility to infection by the previously mentioned bacteria.
Tara Durboraw is a freshman at Auburn University working towards a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Ecology and Management. Tara joined this lab to pursue her interest in disease ecology. Her research interests include infectious disease reservoirs, conservation in biodiversity hotspots, and the effects of wildlife ecology on the human populations in Madagascar and Central America.
Janet Roberts studies Natural Resources Management with a minor in Natural Resources Ecology. As part of the Disease Ecology Lab, she will be examining lemur dietary health. She has been in love with these primates for years and hopes to one day apply her experience in research to a classroom environment where she can teach young people the importance of science and lemurs together!
is a Wildlife Ecology and Management student. He is an outdoorsy dude and loves just sitting out in the woods for hours, hiking, and generally enjoying nature. He is interested in predator ecology in general, but specifically carnivore genetics in Madagascar. He is also interested in the genetic identity of the mysterious Malagasy black forest cat known as the fitoaty.
Kirsten Rice is an undergraduate in the school of Forestry and Wildlife here at Auburn. Her major is wildlife science pre-vet. She has always had an interest in working and interacting with wildlife, especially elephants. Currently, she is working on a project dealing with the interactions and disease transmission between humans an elephants along with helping out in the lab with Dr. Zohdy’s projects. She loves working with animals and hopes to one day travel to different countries working on progressing elephant conservation and care.
Micaela Finney is majoring in Microbiology and minoring in Entomology. Her main focus in Dr. Zohdy‘s lab is the taxonomy and molecular work of Madagascar’s Anopheles mosquitoes. In addition to working in Dr. Zohdy‘s lab, she also works for Dr. Held on an entomology project dealing with interactions between native red maples and non-native crepe myrtles and their influence on native herbivores. She aspires to work in the Entomology branch of the CDC in Atlanta or at the CDC vector-borne disease unit in Fort Collins.