I explore the demographics of parasites inside hosts. Parasites sometimes form cooperative groups (societies and/or colonies); I am interested in what happens when different parasite groups come into conflict with one another. My current work uses "soldier worms" in colonies of parasitic trematodes to examine a key theoretical underpinning of sociobiology: ergonomic theory. Using mathematical models coupled with the ecology and developmental biology of these worms, I aim to present the first robust and tractable test of ergonomic theory since its development over 50 years ago.
Other projects include new species discovery and description and research into emerging public health issues. My work recently launched a National Institutes of Health grant for the exploration of foodborne diseases in southern California. I manage the molecular biology operations of the Hechinger Lab, where I also mentor a wide and diverse range of students in both directed and independent research projects.
- Invertebrate taxonomy
- Aquatic ecology