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 70 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.

Website | Molly Bletz’ Photo Gallery | Contact

 

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Brandon 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

 

 

 

Amanda Tokash-Peters is a Ph.D. Candidate specializing in understanding mosquito microbiomes, pathogen transmission, and environmental influences on this complex system. Amanda is an affiliate researcher with the University of Rwanda’s Center of Excellence in Biodiversity and Natural Resource Management and studies mosquito microbiomes within and beyond East Africa. She is also an NSF IGERT Fellow in the Coasts and Communities Program at UMass Boston and seeks to find transdisciplinary solutions to complex problems in disease ecology.

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Ross Whetstone is a Master’s student interested host susceptibility to B. salamandrivorans and the role that the microbiome plays in disease dynamics. His project is to examine larval amphibians for susceptibility to Bsal, and to test potential probiotics for non-target effects and efficacy in inhibiting Bsal infection in eastern newts. Ross aims to continue researching amphibian disease ecology and conservation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brady Inman joined the Woodhams lab after completing his Master’s degree at Middle Tennessee State University. His Master’s research determined the prevalence of Bd infection in amphibians of middle Tennessee and the influence of climate on Bd prevalence in the area. Broadly, his research interests involve further understanding how amphibian life histories and the environment interact to influence Bd infection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aura Y. Muñiz Torres completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez, where she did research on field ecology working with endemic amphibian and reptiles. She is currently a master’s student who is interested in studying the host-pathogen non-lethal coexistence between the anuran host and the amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. Her research goals are to try to understand how different environmental conditions could influence the amphibian skin microbiome to coexist with Bd in temperate and tropical climates. As career goals she wants to continue working with amphibian conservation.

 

 

 

 

Julia McCartney is a PhD student that joined the Woodhams lab in the Summer of 2019 after completing a B.S. in Biochemistry at North Central College in Illinois. Her previous research investigated how bacteria, isolated from Lithobates catesbeianus eggs, contributed to water mold resistance and the recovery of the gut microbiome following antibiotic disturbance. Currently, Julia is interested in understanding how the microbiome interacts with both hosts and pathogens to protect or augment resistance, specifically in the context of chytridiomycosis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jaimy Jabon is an McNair Fellow and Biology undergraduate interested in mosquito ecology and microbiomes. He plans to continue to do research in disease ecology.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sydney Horan is an undergraduate Biology major in the Honors college who joined the Woodhams Lab in the summer of 2018. She works with Dr. Molly Bletz on researching the mitigation of Bsal through various methods. Currently, she investigates whether common pets such as Bombina toads are carriers of Bsal through the pet trade. She is dually supported by of the McCone and Alumni Research Fund (MARF) Grant and the Undergraduate Research Fund. Broadly, her interests lie in infectious diseases, host-pathogen interactions, genetics and disease ecology. She intends to enroll in graduate school to pursue these interests post-graduation.

 

 

 

 

Jessica Jawhar is an Honors Biology major on the pre-med track in her junior year. Since September 2018, Jessica has been researching the responses of different strains of chytrid fungi to bacteria. With funding from the Sanofi Genzyme Research Fellowship, Jessica has determined that some pathogen strains are locally adapted to the bacterial communities of host amphibians.

 

 

 

 

 

Alex Mertz

Alex 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ryan Fanelli is a self-proclaimed mycologist and gourmet mushroom cultivator working on an undergraduate degree in biochemistry at UMass Boston. He joined the Woodhams lab after a research immersion project there in January of 2019 and developing a keen interest in how the microbiome affects disease ecology. After graduating, he plans to apply to graduate school to conduct research that is focused on the importance of fungi and mycology in conservation and sustainable efforts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Former Lab Members


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Dr. 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.

Publications | Andreas Hertz’ Photo Gallery | Contact

 

 

 

 

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Kelly Barnhart was awarded the Biology graduate research thesis award upon completion of her Master’s degree focused on, “From Symbionts to Pathogens: Interactions within the Amphibian Skin Mucosome”. She published a first author of a paper Bufadienolide compounds from toad skin, and two chapters on spotted salamander resistance to B. salamandrivorans are forthcoming. Her research interests include disease and conservation ecology, specifically chytridiomycosis and effective treatment methods for this disease.  Currently, she is working as a Biomedical Life Scientist with Leidos in Maryland.

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Jenn Boulter was awarded the Excellence in Service Award upon graduation from Biology and the Honors College, with a senior thesis, “The Rusty Crayfish, Orconectes rusticus, as an Alternative Host to Two Amphibian Fungal Pathogens

Honors College Senior Thesis.” Jenn started working in the Woodhams Lab in 2016 where she excelled at several research projects and will be a coauthor on publications. She has been an active member of Phi Delta Epsilon International Medical Fraternity since 2016, and she has served as the secretary and risk management officer (2017) and vice president of programming (2018). She also coordinated the creation of “Stop the Bleed” on campus, an initiative that aims to teach bleeding control and places bleeding control kits in public places. Jenn continues to work as an EMT as she pursues a duel degree in Masters of Public Health and Biomedical Science at Tufts Medical.

 

 

 

Diego Aparicio graduated from the Honors College after completing a senior thesis, “Effect of Climate Change on the Microbiome and Potential Defense Against Fungal Pathogens in Developing Green Frog, Lithobates clamitans, Tadpoles.” Diego aspires to continue research and pursue medicine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Megan Fung is a recent Honors Biology graduate who worked on the impact of temperature on the presence of a symbiotic bacterium, Wolbachia, in Culex mosquitoes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Erin Garrity is an Honors Biology graduate. She completed 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kate 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 Nguyen

Trong 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Lindsey Raymond

Lindsey 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