FSUCML Lecture Series (May 11th at 7:00 pm)
May 11 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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Dr. Tara Stewart Merrill is an aquatic disease ecologist who focuses on understanding the causes of pathogen spread in natural systems, and the consequences of infection for individuals, populations, and ecological communities. Fourteen years ago, Tara left a promising professional career in ballet and modern dance for the dark side—the dark side of parasites and infectious disease. In 2009, she began her scientific education at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she received her BA in Biology. In 2019, she completed her PhD at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign focusing on the drivers of fungal epidemics in freshwater plankton. Tara then completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Colorado Boulder. In her new faculty position at the FSU CML, Tara is investigating 1) the impacts of disease on Apalachicola oysters, 2) how parasites regulate host populations through lethal and non-lethal effects, and 3) relationships between biodiversity and infectious disease, including when parasites serve as indicators of ecosystem health versus warning signs of ecosystem decline.
In her lecture, Tara will dive into the controversy surrounding biodiversity-disease relationships, including how we can test theory and how we can move toward resolution.