The Brook Lab includes students and postdocs based in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago, in addition to a suite of inspiring Malagasy graduate students at the University of Antananarivo. We carry out all field work in close collaboration with Association Ekipa Fanihy, (‘Ekipa Fanihy’ is Malagasy for ‘Team Fruit Bat’), a Madagascar-based NGO focused on bat research and conservation.
Sophie Lockwood (she/her) is a PhD student in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago where she is interested in combining computational and field biology to understand the transmission dynamics of zoonotic viruses. She holds a MSPH from Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University and a BS from Georgetown University and has previously worked on projects exploring the intersections between climate change and health and in outbreak response and science policy with local and federal government.
Gwenddolen Kettenburg (she/her) is a PhD student in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago, where she studies seasonal pathogen dynamics and carries out novel virus discovery in Madagascar bats, while also exploring the experimental evolution of virus growth rates in bat cell lines. Gwen holds a Master’s degree in Infectious Diseases and Microbiology from the University of Pittsburgh while working as a research technician and has previously worked on projects investigating inhibiting cell death pathways after avian influenza virus infection in a human precision-cut lung slice model. She earned her B.S. in Biology in 2018 from Keystone College working on studying antibiotic resistance and phage resistance in model bacteria species and studying pathogen prevalence in deer ticks in Pennsylvania.
Sophia Horigan (she/her) is a PhD candidate in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago. Her work leverages computational models and field data to understand disease dynamics, as well as predict and mitigate future outbreaks of harmful pathogens. In the Brook lab, she is using models to improve our understanding of the transmission dynamics of viruses in Madagascar fruit bats, as well as exploring how bat vaccination strategies may alter these dynamics. Sophia earned her B.A. from Lewis & Clark College, where she built bioinformatics pipelines that utilized proteomic and transcriptomic datasets to understand the evolutionary history of Haplogyne spiders and their venom.
Dr. Christian Ranaivoson (he/him) is a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago. He leads mNGS efforts targeting viral discovery in Malagasy fruit bats and febrile patients reporting to public hospitals in Madagascar. He has a PhD from the Department of Zoology and Animal Biodiversity at the University of Antananarivo, Madagascar and worked as a Research Engineer in the Virology Unit at Institut Pasteur de Madagascar. Christian’s PhD research focused on the distribution and transmission of intra-erythrocytic parasites of Malagasy fruit bats, specifically Babesia spp. infections of the Madagascar flying fox, Pteropus rufus. At IPM, Christian led NGS studies focused on SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance in Madagascar. Christian holds a Master’s degree in Biology, Ecology, and Animal Conservation from the University of Antananarivo and has previously studied infections of Malagasy crayfishes and nematode parasites of Malagasy reptiles.
Dr. Emily Cornelius Ruhs (she/her) is a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago. She studies the impact pf physiological stressors and energetic constraints, such as nutrition and reproduction, on the fruit bat immune response, using data from our Madagascar system. She is also working on a large serological database deciphering zoonotic exposures in human communities with significant animal contact in Madagascar. Emily holds her Master’s degree from the University of Georgia where she studied disease ecology and her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she studied wildlife ecology. She has previously worked on projects examining how acute environmental perturbations influences bird physiology and how aspects of the innate immune system scale with body size.
Dr. Natalia Cortes-Delgado (she/her) is a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago. Her research focuses on estimating effective population size and connectivity of three species of Malagasy bats, as well as the influence of bat microbiome on tolerance to viral infections. Natalia holds a PhD in Ecology and Evolution from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she investigated the role of the Andes as a driver of genetic differentiation in bat populations. She has a Master’s degree in Sciences from the Instituto de Ecologia, A.C. in Mexico where she studied roost use and foraging areas by the fruit bat species Sturnira hondurensis. Natalia’s research interests are broad and are mainly concentrated in bat evolution, including the understanding of patterns of genetic structure and speciation in bat species, in addition to bat immune response evolution.
Mars Woodward (they/she) is a post-baccalaureate Research Assistant funded by the NIH PREP program. Mars holds a B.A. from Pomona College, with a Biology major and Africana Studies minor. They studied the convergence of Biology and Africana Studies within the field of Urban Ecology. In the past, they investigated the ecology of different Caenorhabditis species at NYU and worked on a bioinformatic pipeline to identify the avian MHC region and copy numbers at the American Museum of Natural History.
Angelo Andrianiaina (he/him) is a PhD student in the Department of Zoology and Animal Biodiversity at the University of Antananarivo, Madagascar, where he studies seasonal variation in ectoparasite infestation of two Malagasy fruit bats (Eidolon dupreanum and Rousettus madagascariensis) and the impacts of this variation on the dynamics of infection for vector-borne pathogens, such as Bartonella spp. Angelo holds a Master’s degree in Animal Conservation from the University of Antananarivo and has previously worked on projects promoting lemur conservation in vanilla plantations in northern Madagascar, as well as projects documenting small mammal and herpetological biodiversity in the Moramanga District of east-central Madagascar.
Santino Andry (he/him) recently finished his Master’s degree in the Department of Entomology at the University of Antananarivo, Madagascar, where he worked with the Madagascar Biodiversity Center to document the effects of logging intensification on exotic and native ant assemblages in the new protected area of Ambohidray, District of Moramanga, Madagascar. Santino joined Ekipa Fanihy in August 2019 and is just starting his PhD work with the team, splitting time between GPS telemetry and fruit bat ecotparasite projects.
Rova Ratsimamanga is a Master’s Student with Association Ekipa Fanihy.
Rova is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in the Department of Zoology and Animal Biology at the University of Antananarivo, Madagascar. He is studying Bartonella spp. prevalence on Madagascar’s fruit bats. Rova joined the Association Ekipa Fanihy in February 2023.
Katherine McFerrin (she/her) is a Field Project Manager. She co-leads monthly field expeditions to capture and sample Madagascar endemic fruit bats. Katherine earned her B.A. in Biology from Carleton College where she focused on organismal biology and bioinformatics. She has previously conducted hantavirus surveillance in wild rodents in eastern Washington with the Molecular Ecology of Zoonotic and Animal Pathogens Lab at Washington State University. Additionally, she studied wildlife conservation and political ecology in Uganda where she conducted ecological surveys and used social science methods to better understand human-wildlife interactions.
Martin Roland is a Field Project Manager with Ekipa Fanihy, co-leading monthly field expeditions to capture and sample Madagascar endemic fruit bats. He graduated from the University of Chicago with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and a Minor in Biological Sciences, where he engaged in research focused on the morphological study of field mice for species identification. As a field TA he has led student groups on rigorous field projects including sampling for aquatic insect diversity in the mountains of Arizona, trapping rodents in the Midwest, and surveying intertidal algae abundance in Cape Cod.
Nuzha Baksh (she/her) is a Data Manager working part-time with Ekipa Fanihy. Previously, she served as a Field Project Manager from Sep 2023-Sept 2023. She is now working full time as a Lab Manager in the lab of Dr. Rebecca Tarvin at UC Berkeley. Nuzha holds a B.S. in Zoology and a Minor in Linguistics from UC Santa Barbara, where she studied the effects of chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) on amphibian populations and worked as lab technician to care for a colony of Pacific tree frogs for lab of Dr. Cherie Briggs.
Theresa Laverty was a postdoctoral scholar in the Brook lab from Sept 2021 - December 2022. She is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Ecology at New Mexico State University.
Katie Young was a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Brook lab from Jan 2022 - December 2022. She is now a Adjunct Assistant Professor at New Mexico State University and a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Texas, El Paso.
Freddy Gonzalez was a post-baccalaureate scholar funded through the NIH PREP program to work in the Brook Lab. He is now a PhD student in Dr. Paul Turner’s lab in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University.
Yimei Li was a post-baccalaureate Research Assistant in the Brook Lab. She is now a PhD student working with Dr. Simon Levin, Dr. Bryan Grenfell, and Dr. A.J. te Velthuis in the Quantitative and Computational Biology program at Princeton University.
Areen Khan was a high school student working with the Brook lab through the University of Chicago Laboratory School “Summer LabLink” program. She is back at classes in her senior year and now applying to college.
Margot Bolaños-Gamez was an undergraduate who completed her Honor’s thesis in the Brook lab in 2023. She is now a Master’s in Public Health student at Emory University in Atlanta.
Vera Soloview was an undergraduate who completed her Honor’s thesis in the Brook lab in 2023. She is now an intern with the American Bird Conservancy in Chicago.
Michael McGuire was a Field Project Manager with Association Ekipa Fanihy from Jan-Dec 2023. He is now back in the midwest looking for jobs in forestry and conservation.
Kendall Fitzgerald was a Field Project Manager with Association Ekipa Fanihy and a Research Technician in the Brook Lab at UChicago from Feb 2022-August 2023. Shes now an independent documentary filmmaker in the Chicago area.
Dominic Daniels was Field Project Manager for Association Ekipa Fanihy from Feb-Sept 2022. He is now working for Bat Conservation International in Pennsylvania.
Anecia Gentles was Field Project Manager for Association Ekipa Fanihy from Jan 2019 - March 2020. She is now a PhD student in Dr. Nicole Gottdenker’s lab at the University of Georgia.
Sarah Guth was a PhD student in Mike Boots’ lab at UC Berkeley while Cara was a postdoc (2017-2021). Sarah worked closely with Cara on several field and computational projects. She is now an Assistant Professor of Biology at Skyline College in San Bruno, CA.