Principal Investigator

Professor Dr. Ryan Hechinger

Our group has three overarching research goals. First, to reveal the role of parasites in ecosystems. Second, to use parasites to help find universal ecological and evolutionary truths. Third, to “keep it real”. Please see our research and publications pages for details on how we achieve these goals. Email Ryan.

Lab Manager: Andrew Turner

Andrew works on lots of things in the lab and field, and generally keeps lab operations flowing smoothly. He got his BS in Microbiology from UC Santa Barbara in 2013, but he’s been working with Dr. Hechinger and his ilk since time immemorial. Email Andrew.

Post-Doctoral Researchers

Dr. Adrienne Mora

Adrienne examines how manipulative parasites affect the evolutionary ecology of their hosts. Some of her research has examined parasitic effects on host personality, courtship, and predator-prey interactions. She plans to expand her work in the Hechinger lab by investigating relationships between host personality, physiology, disease risk, and fitness. Email Adrienne. Go to her website.

Graduate Students

Daniel Metz, PhD Student

Dan primarily works on trematode sociality and runs the lab’s DNA sequencing operation. He first started working with Ryan as a visiting ESA undergraduate research fellow studying a ciliate parasite of crabs. He got his BS in Biology from Radford University in Virginia. Email Dan. See his webpage.

Anai Novoa, M.S., PhD Student

Anai is developing a dissertation project to examine how parasitism interacts with species range boundary shifts. She is also working on the diversity and abundance of louse parasites of estuarine birds. She got a BA in Biology from University of California, Santa Barbara, and an MS in Marine Science from University of San Diego. Email Anai.

Cassandra Bernas, B.S.-M.S. Student

Cassie is a working on a project that helps identify each parasite life stage in different hosts and connects life stages belonging to a single species in order to better understand parasite diversity in an estuarine food web. She is a biochemistry and cell biology major at UCSD.

Alex Nelson, M.S. Student

Alex is working on describing trematodes from C. Cal. She graduated from UCSD with a B.S. in Marine Biology and Biochemistry.

Jennifer Dusto, B.S-M.S. Student

Jennifer working on describing a previously unreported mermithid nematode. She has a B.S. from UCSD in Marine Biology.

Titus Hartmann, B.S-M.S. Student

Titus works on a project examining the hemolymph of Cerithideopsis californica. He has a B.S. from UCSD in biochemistry with a marine science minor.

Lab Interns

Yang Hong

Yang works on a project examining how parasitism interacts with species range boundary shifts. He is an undergraduate student at UCSD majoring in marine biology.


Siri Helene Riise

Siri visited us, here and there, from Norway. She worked on the Euhaplorchis–Fundulus parasite project, focusing on how parasitism alters host physiology, and the anatomy and chemistry of the brain. She has a BS in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, and a M.Sc in Physiology, both from the University of Oslo.

Dr. Ida Beitnes Johansen

Ida was a visiting Postdoc from The Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), Oslo, Norway. She was working on the Euhaplorchis–Fundulus parasite project, which was a collaborative project between NMBU and the Hechinger lab. She has a BS in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and a M.Sc in Physiology, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from the University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway and a Ph.D. from NMBU.

Dr. Emlyn Resetarits

Emlyn is interested in species interactions and how these interactions can have large and unexpected effects on communities and ecosystems.  Her current work focuses on the role parasites play in aquatic food webs and ecosystems, and how parasites respond across different scales of organization.

Dr. Manuel Roberto Garcia-Huidobro Moreno

Roberto is interested in understanding the effect of environmental variability on the host-parasite relationship. His project studies the influence of the temperature and ocean acidification on two parasitised molluscs by digeneans along the coast of Chile. His work involves field collection and experiments that evaluate the performance of hosts against these environmental stressors. Currently, he is a research associate at the Centro de Investigación e Innovación para el Cambio Climático, and coordinator of the PhD program in Conservación y Gestión de la Biodiversidad at the Santo Tomas University, Chile. Email Roberto. Website.

Major Collaborators

Dr. Kelly Weinersmith

Euhaplorchis–Fundulus parasite project. Email Kelly. Go to her website.

Dr. Oyvind Overli

Euhaplorchis–Fundulus parasite project. Email Oyvind. Go to his website.

Dr. Armand Kuris

Email Armand. Go to his website.

Dr. Kevin Lafferty

Email Kevin. Go to his website.

Dr. Mark Torchin

Email Mark. Go to his website.

scripps oceanography uc san diego