14 College Farm Rd
DEENR, 1st floor
New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Current Positions
PhD candidate, Dept. of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources, Rutgers University

Degrees Held
MSc, Oxford University, UK
BSc (Hons), Oxford Brookes University, UK
BA, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Karen L. Wylie

Graduate Student

My research focuses on problems in wildlife disease ecology and conservation biology. I am especially interested in applying mathematical techniques to better understand the connectedness between multiple diseases and their vectors and hosts within the environment, and what impact this may have on species of conservation concern.

I am currently researching the question that disease webs should be considered separately from food webs. Although many diseases are transmitted through the feeding habits of organisms, diseases can also be transmitted through other portals of entry such as respiratory or genitourinary membranes. I am investigating the structure and topology of such disease webs, the mechanisms and dynamics that drive them, and their robustness and stability within ecosystems.

By addressing the complexity of disease webs from an ecological network perspective, I hope to come to a better understanding of how and why host-vector or host-parasite interactions can have secondary impacts on other organisms within their ecological communities and ecosystems. I would like to know what community changes can be brought about by perturbations in disease webs, and, in turn, what impact community dynamics may have on the stability of a disease web. I would like to understand the factors that drive the resilience, reactivity, persistence and invasability of disease webs. By undertaking this research project I hope to improve our knowledge of infectious diseases in wildlife conservation.