People

Dr. Doug Woodhams

Dr. Doug Woodhams is a disease ecologist working to understand the microbial contribution to immunity and the applications of altering microbiota for conservation and human health. Incorporating over 100 co-authors, his more than 60 publications testify to the value he places on collaboration with colleagues and students in the highly interdisciplinary field of disease ecology. Recent studies apply disease mitigation strategies and a culture collection of several thousand host-associated and anti-fungal bacterial and fungal isolates. Current methodology includes immunological chemistry, low-oxygen microbial culture, and next-generation sequencing and bioinformatics analysis of microbial diversity and community function.

Education and Appointments | Publications | Photo Gallery | Contact

 

 

 

Dr. Molly Bletz has research interests that lie at the intersection of microbial ecology, disease ecology and conservation. Her studies have taken her from the US to Panama, from Germany to Madagascar, to investigate disease dynamics, host susceptibility, the ecology of host-associated microbiota, and disease mitigation strategies. Her PhD work focused on understanding the structure and function of amphibian microbial communities. She joined the Woodhams lab as a Smith Fellow where she works to understand the threat posed by the emerging salamander pathogen, Bsal, through predicting host susceptibility and environmental suitability, and to develop scientifically-based disease management strategies. She is interested in understanding the microbial ecology of host-associated microbiota and the beneficial role these communities play in protection against pathogens, particularly for amphibians. She will use this basic understanding to inform wildlife conservation efforts around the world.

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IMG_1996_use_this_one 2Dr. Andreas Hertz has been working on taxonomy and systematics of Neotropical herpetofauna for almost 10 years. He has been involved in several new species descriptions of amphibians and reptiles, primarily from Panama. One current research direction includes examining recovering amphibian populations that have survived mass extinction through chytridiomycosis. This research focuses on the mechanisms of host adaption in recovering frog populations permitting coexistence with the pathogen. He is supported by a German DFG postdoctoral award.

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IMG_1996_use_this_one 1Brandon LaBumbard joined the Woodhams lab at UMASS Boston after completing his master’s degree from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. His master’s research compared the current distribution and disease status of the chytrid fungus, Bd, in the Kosñipata Valley of Peru to records before amphibian declines. He is interested in factors that allow Bd to persist in the environment and how community effects aid in the transmission of Bd. His future research plans will focus on natural host resistance to chytridiomycosis through mucosome defense mechanisms and how these defenses might be altered through changes in host, pathogen, and/or environment.

Brandon LaBumbard’s Photo Gallery | Contact

 

 

 

Kelly picKelly Barnhart is a Master’s student and recent first author of a paper Bufadienolide compounds from toad skin. Her research interests include disease and conservation ecology, specifically chytridiomycosis and effective treatment methods for this disease.  Currently, she is working to understand the microbiome influence on resistance to salamander chytridiomycosis.

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IMG_6710-fullresAmanda Tokash-Peters joins the Woodhams lab as a Coasts and Communities IGERT fellow in the summer of 2016 moving from Chestertown, Maryland.  With a B.S. in Biology and Environmental Science from Washington College, Amanda is interested in how anthropological influences on the environment can affect the ecology and conservation of amphibians.  Amanda is involved with the project entitled, “Linking Microbiota and Ecotoxicology with Mosquito-Borne Disease Risk,” supported by a seed grant from the Office of Research, Strategic Initiatives and Graduate Studies.

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Erin Garrity is a biology major on the pre-vet track in her senior year. She is currently working on her thesis project in the Woodhams lab and has received the Beacon Student Success Fellowship and the Sanofi Genzyme Fellowship. She hopes to get her doctorate in veterinary medicine, and continue to foster her interests in infectious disease and ecology.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alberto Campos joins the Woodhams Lab as an undergraduate chemistry student.  Alberto is interested in infectious diseases and public health.  He is pursuing research focusing on the disease dynamics of fungal pathogens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nina McDonnell is a Natural Resource Ecology student at the University of Vermont. She manages mesocosm experiments in Vermont, and has a passion for herpetofaunal biology and conservation.  She also collaborates on field sampling for Bd and Bsal with the Woodhams Lab.  After graduating college, she intends to enroll in graduate school and conduct her own research.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isam Adam is an undergraduate biology major on the pre-med track in his junior year. Isam has been a member of the Woodhams lab since October 2016, working closely with Brandon LaBumbard on the study of chytrid fungi Bd and Bsal, and different snake and bat fungi. Isam’s work mainly deals with examining the relationship between these fungi and different bacterial strains, and specifically, the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) produced by the bacteria to inhibit fungal growth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Ganem has been a volunteer lab assistant in the Woodham’s Lab since September 2016. He is currently investigating the impact of certain environmental and biological exposures on the proteolytic activity of Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans. Bsal utilizes an arsenal of proteases to hydrolyze antimicrobial peptides on amphibian skin that serve a vital role in the innate immune system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Former Lab Members


IMG_3780Kate Seigars graduated from UMass Boston with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. Kate has experience as a research assistant in Analytical Chemistry at Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals and hopes to pursue a graduate degree program in either Dentistry or Pharmaceutical Sciences.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trong NguyenTrong Nguyen accepted a lab manager position at Mass General Hospital after almost 2 years in the Woodhams lab where he studied Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and other fungal pathogens. He worked on growth and viability assays of fungi upon exposure to amphibian mucus and symbiotic bacteria. His research project focused on antifungal agents against Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis as well as the newly isolated Fusarium solani on amphibians in order to support conservation efforts.

 

 

 

 

 

Alex MertzAlex Mertz graduated with a biology degree.  As an independent study student he worked on pathogen growth assays, and visited Panama to assist with amphibian sampling in the field.  His independent project involved sampling waterfowl and turtles from the New England Wildlife Center in South Weymouth, MA and from wild populations to determine if they can act as reservoirs of Bd or ranavirus and contribute to disease spread.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lindsey RaymondLindsey Raymond graduated with honors in Biology and is currently working at Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston. She has a passion for population health research and clinical care. Her project involved investigating the growth of fungal pathogens when in the presence of bacteria.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bhumi Patel joined the Woodhams lab for her senior year at UMass Boston as a Biology major with a Cognitive Science Minor, graduating with honors. With hopes of obtaining an M.D., Bhumi was a Sanofi-Genzyme fellow with a research interest in salamander immune function against the emerging fungal pathogen of salamanders, B. salamandrivorans. She also helped discover that a novel antimicrobial peptide could both inhibit and facilitate different symbiotic skin bacteria from amphibians.

 

 

 

Contact

Douglas C. Woodhams, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
UMass Boston | Department of Biology
100 Morrissey Blvd.
Boston, Massachusetts 02125
Phone: 617-287-6679