Ekipa Fanihy (Team)


The Brook Lab includes students and postdocs based in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago, in addition to suite of inspiring Malagasy graduate students and postdocs at the University of Antananarivo. Collectively, we are Ekipa Fanihy, Malagasy for ‚ÄėTeam Fruit Bat.‚Äô


University of Chicago Team


Gwenddolen Kettenburg is a PhD student in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago, where she plans to study seasonal pathogen dynamics in Madagascar bats in the field, 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 works 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 is a PhD candidate in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago. Her work centers on leveraging computational models and field data to understand disease dynamics, as well as predicting and mitigating 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 focused on building bioinformatics pipelines that utilized proteomic and transcriptomic datasets to understand the evolutionary history of Haplogyne spiders and their venom.



Dr. Christian Ranaivoson is a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago. He will lead NGS efforts targeting viral discovery in Malagasy fruit bats. He has a PhD in the Department of Zoology and Animal Biodiversity at the University of Antananarivo, Madagascar and recently 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 Next Generation Sequencing (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.



Emily Cornelius Ruhs is a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago. She will be working on a long-term dataset exploring viral exposure, nutritional status and animal contact in villages in Madagascar. In the future she hopes to explore how food supplementation impacts viral shedding in bats. 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. Emily is broadly interested in how energetic constraints drive life-history trade-offs and influences disease dynamics in wildlife.



Vera Soloview is an undergraduate Research Assistant studying Biological Sciences at the University of Chicago. Over the past two summers, Vera has completed research with the University of Alaska Anchorage sequencing distinct lineages of H1N1 influenza circulating in Laos. She has recently joined the Brook Lab, currently assisting on research projects.



Margot Bola√Īos-Gamez is an undergraduate Research Assistant studying Environmental Science and Global Studies at the University of Chicago. As part of the Marine Biological Sciences September courses, she has researched the biodiversity of the local Little Sippewissett Marsh fiddler crabs and the biogeography of the flora and field mice of Penikese Island. A recent Center for Global Health fellow, she led an investigation in Honduras on the health decentralization reform by conducting ethnographic interviews in local clinics, governmental agencies, and regional health centers. Being a research assistant in the Brook Lab introduces her to an insightful field and lab skills relevant to her professional journey. She aspires to work on research that centralizes human and environmental health concerns and combines her passion for social and health sciences.



Katherine McFerrin is the Lab Manager. She supports the Brook Lab’s research and fieldwork. She will also be comparing methods to estimate bat aging and helping with hormonal assays. 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.



Kendall Fitzgerald is a Laboratory Research Technician. She previously was a Field Project Manager with Ekipa Fanihy, where she co-led field missions with the team to carry out capture and sampling of Madagascar fruit bats. She also served as an in-country facilitator for the new ‚ÄúCoding for Conservation‚ÄĚ mentorship program for Malagasy students. Additionally, Kendall documents media for the lab through film, blogs and images. Kendall holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from UC Berkeley in Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology and she previously studied identification of subfossil sub-saharan African shrews as well as conducted field work in South Africa, Malawi and California.


Madagascar Team


Angelo Andrianiaina 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 Santino Andry 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 will be enrolling as a PhD student with the team in 2021.



Nuzha Baksh is a Field Project Manager with Ekipa Fanihy. She co-leads monthly field expeditions to capture and sample fruit bats endemic to Madagascar (Pteropus rufus, Eidolon dupreanum, and Rousettus madagascariensis). She has also previously conducted fieldwork sampling endangered mountain yellow-legged frogs in the Sierra Nevadas and various frog species in East Bay California. 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 the Briggs lab.



Michael McGuire is a Field Project Manager with Ekipa Fanihy. He co-leads monthly field expeditions to capture and sample Madagascar endemic fruit bats. Michael holds a B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology and a minor in Geography from the University of Vermont. He has a diverse work history from environmental education and backcountry canoe & kayak guiding in Northern Wisconsin, fieldwork on a sampling project of snowshoe hares in Colorado, assisting and filming an expedition down the Mississippi River to study microplastics distribution, trail construction with Americorps in and around Olympic National Park, salmon habitat restoration on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, and whale-watch guiding within the Salish Sea. Michael is also an accomplished wildlife and nature photographer having earned scholarships, held galleries for his work, and won several awards.


Ekipa Collaborators


Anecia Gentles is a PhD student working with Dr. Nicole Gottdenker in the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia. Prior to starting at UGA, Anecia served as an 18-month Field Project Manager for Ekipa Fanihy from January 2018-June 2020, organizing lead monthly field collections on our project. Anecia plans to continue work with Ekipa Fanihy throughout her PhD. Her review of previous modeling studies of bat infection dynamics will be coming out in Pathogens and Global Health next month. Anecia holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Rice University, where she studied lemur seed dispersal in Madagascar.



Sarah Guth is a fourth-year PhD Candidate in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. Sarah is advised by Professor Mike Boots and studies the evolutionary underpinnings of cross-species zoonotic emergence. Sarah is carrying out a subset of dissertation chapters in part with Ekipa Fanihy, specifically investigating link between disease and aging in the fruit bat methylome in collaboration with Professor Peter Sudmant at UC Berkeley. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Conservation Biology from Middlebury College and has previously studied foraging and learning behavior in bees, as well as served as the Program Coordinator for Harvard University’s Planetary Health Alliance.


Ekipa Alumni


Freddy Gonzalez is now a PhD student in Paul Turner’s lab in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale. He was post-baccalaureate Research Assistant funded through the NIH PREP program to work in the Brook Lab. He studied the evolutionary relationship between bats and their native viruses, while seeking to understand how the bat immune system temporally dampens pathogenesis during migration, reproduction, and hibernation. He holds a B.S. in Microbiology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he characterized the Daphnia magna virome and identified putative bacteriophage hosts.



Yimei Li is now a PhD student working with Simon Levin in the Quantitative and Computational Biology program at Princeton. She was a post-baccalaureate Research Assistant in the Brook Lab. She worked on dynamical modeling of dengue incidence, as well as the genomic epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 in Madagascar. In the future, she hopes to use statistical and computational models and field data to explore disease dynamics. She holds a Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania where she focused on human-environment relationship.



Dominic Daniels is now working for Bat Conservation International in Pennsylvania. He was a previous Field Project Manager for Ekipa Fanihy in Madagascar, where he co-facilitated field missions for the sampling of Pteropus, Eidolon, and Rousettus bats. His side projects included bioacoustics sampling for insectivorous bats and GIS mapping. Dominic holds a B.S. in Conservation & Resource Studies and a B.A. in French from the University of California, Berkeley; and has previously worked for the Lincoln Park Zoo, the US Bureau of Land Management, and CAL FIRE.



Fifi Ravelomanantsoa was a Research Technician for Ekipa Fanihy. She studied seasonal variation in microbiome gut flora in Malagasy fruit bats and the interactions of these microbiome communities with the dynamics of viral and bacterial infections. Fifi’s review of the zoonotic potential of bat-borne coronaviruses was published in Emerging Topics in Life Sciences in 2020. Fifi holds a Master’s degree in Animal Conservation from the University of Antananarivo and has previously studied patterns in chiropteran biodiversity in the Melaky region of western Madagascar.



Theresa Laverty is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Ecology at New Mexico State University. She was a Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of Chicago. Using methods such as molecular dietary analysis and population viability analyses, her work advanced our knowledge of the population, community, and disease ecology of Malagasy bats. Theresa holds a PhD in Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology from Colorado State University, where she conducted social and ecological research to understand the drivers of bat community structure and identify conservation challenges / opportunities within pastoralist communal conservancies in the northern Namib Desert, Namibia. Prior to Chicago, Theresa was a postdoctoral fellow at Colorado State University studying the population ecology of migratory long-nosed bats (Leptonycteris spp.) in relation to the timing and availability of their Agave nectar food in New Mexico.



Katie Young is now a Adjunct Assistant Professor at New Mexico State University. She was a Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of Chicago. She used an inter-disciplinary approach including field-based sampling, metagenomic sequencing, and open-source data to better understand the complex host-vector-environmental interactions that drive viral emergence in Madagascar. Katie holds a Master’s degree and Ph.D. from New Mexico State University where she studied the ecology and evolution of arthropod-borne viruses. She was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship in 2016 to research the impact of oil palm insertion into native Bornean forests on the risk of spillover of dengue viruses from non-human primates to humans. Prior to joining the Brook Lab, Katie was a USDA-ARS funded postdoctoral fellow studying the ecological drivers of vesicular stomatitis virus emergence from Southern Mexico into the US and supported the development of an early warning system using Big-Data-Model-Integration approaches.