Affiliates: Pathogens & Diseases

The 2023 IPBES Invasive Species Assessment indicates that more than 3,500 invasive species with documented negative impacts have been recorded worldwide. Although their numbers are likely to be underestimated and expected to increase, 141 microbial species contribute to that statistic.

Jessica Cunningham

Dr. Jessica Cunningham

Research Scientist
Fralin Biomedical Research Institute | Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics

Dr. Cunningham’s research focuses on applying principles of ecology and integrated pest management to understand eco-evolutionary dynamics for the long-term management of cancer.

Thematic Area(s):

  • Biology, ecology, & ecosystem dynamics
Luis Escobar

Dr. Luis Escobar

Assistant Professor
Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation

A key component of Dr. Escobar’s research is developing theory and methods to study the biogeography of infectious diseases, disease ecology, and invasion biology. Current projects include bat-borne rabies, chronic wasting disease, spatial epidemiology in the Anthropocene, and disease-biodiversity relationships.

Thematic Area(s):

  • Biology, ecology, & ecosystem dynamics

Dr. Carrie Fearer

Dr. Carrie Fearer

Assistant Professor
Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation

Dr. Fearer’s research explores the micro- and macro- level impacts of nonnative pathogens on forest ecosystems. She has studied laurel wilt disease, beech bark disease, beech leaf disease, and walnut witches’ broom.

Thematic Area(s):

  • Biology, ecology, & ecosystem dynamics
  • Detection, management, prevention, & eradication
  • Restoration ecology

Harrison Miles

Ph.D. Student
Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation

Miles studies the biological control of tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima) with a soil-borne fungus (Verticillium nonalfalfae) and their interaction with spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula).

Thematic Area(s):

  • Biology, ecology, & ecosystem dynamics
  • Detection, management, prevention, & eradication
Scott Salom

Dr. Scott Salom

Professor and Graduate Program Director
Department of Entomology

Dr. Salom researches forest insect and weed pests, with an emphasis on developing tools and strategies to improve management for those pests. His main area of focus is the biological control of hemlock woolly adelgid and tree of heaven.

Thematic Area(s):

  • Biology, ecology, & ecosystem dynamics
  • Detection, management, prevention, & eradication

Dr. David Schmale

Professor
School of Plant and Environmental Sciences

Dr. Schmale’s research explores how microorganisms are transported over long distances in the atmosphere.

Thematic Area(s):

  • Biology, ecology, & ecosystem dynamics
  • Detection, management, prevention, & eradication
  • Genetics, genomics, & community/population structure

Paige Van de Vuurst

Ph.D. Student
Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health

Through vampire bats, Van de Vuurst studies the impacts of climate and landscape on the distribution and transmission of zoonotic diseases in Latin America. 

Thematic Area(s):

  • Biology, ecology, & ecosystem dynamics
  • Detection, management, prevention, & eradication

Dr. Scotty Yang

Assistant Professor
Department of Entomology

Dr. Yang studies invasive ants through an integrated approach combining genetics & genomics, behavior ecology and microbial interactions with a goal of developing biorational invasive ant management strategies that mitigate their impacts.

Thematic Area(s):

  • Biology, ecology, & ecosystem dynamics
  • Detection, management, prevention, & eradication
  • Genetics, genomics, & community/population structure