Principal Investigator

Dr. Alex Strauss (he/him)

I am a quantitative disease and community ecologist. I study infectious disease dynamics in both animal communities (zooplankton as hosts) and plant communities (grasses as hosts). I am especially interested in disease ecology in the context of global changes such as biodiversity loss, climate change, and environmental eutrophication. I like to approach my research by combining three iterative and complementary perspectives: observations in nature inspire relevant questions, experiments test specific predictions, and mathematical models generalize and formalize theory.

email:; twitter: @atstrauss

Lab Manager

Christopher Brandon (he/him)

I graduated from the University of Georgia in the summer of 2022 with degrees in biology and ecology. I worked with Dr. Sonia Altizer in the Odum School for three years researching how warming climates may affect monarch butterfly survival and development, as well as trophic interactions between monarchs and their host plant species. A large portion of my research experience has focused on disease ecology, and I have experience working with the monarch butterfly/OE and passalus beetle/nematode systems



Robbie Richards (he/him)

I combine field data with quantitative methods ranging from mathematical transmission models to machine learning algorithms to ask questions about the population and community ecology of infectious diseases.  I have worked in a variety of study systems, from alpine carnations to American bison, from humans to hispid cotton rats, and have been fascinated by all of their parasites. My PhD work focused on the role of predators in driving prevalences, intensities, and diversities of macroparasites of mammals so I’m very excited to return to questions of predator-prey-parasite interactions with the perfect study system: zooplankton! One of my main professional passions is teaching which I’m getting to do a lot of in my role at Odum. I especially enjoy using interactive problem-based pedagogy to help students learn ecological/biological concepts and/or statistical/data science skills.


PhD Students

Katie Schroeder (she/her)

I’m interested in the interactions between disease spread and community and ecosystem ecology. I especially enjoy thinking about how environmental conditions affect disease transmission and ecosystem processes. My undergrad research spanned from microbial bioremediation of selenium to
the effects of metal ions on nectar microbial communities to carbon cycling and fungal disease in grasslands. I’m excited to combine different parts of these previous research experiences and learn a whole bunch of new things!

Undergraduate Students

Lab Alumni

Elizabeth Warburton. Visiting Research Scientist 2022. Elizabeth helped with our field survey and exploration of the potential role of chrironomid midges for the transmission of the mysterious microsporidians.

Kate Galbraith. Lab Manager 2021-2022. Kate was the inaugural lab manager of the Strauss lab! She helped set up the lab, lead exploratory surveys of local ponds, and helped oversee the first round of experiments in the lab.

Iman Khan. Lab technician 2021-2022. Iman helped keep the lab running smoothly! She helped with maintaining cultures of zooplankton and phytoplankton and counting spores of microsporidian parasites. She transferred to Georgia Tech in 2023.

Emily Landolt. REU student 2022. For her REU project, Emily is asking whether eDNA can be used as a tool to estimate densities and relative abundances of zooplankton, in controlled mesocosm experiments.

Jenavier Tejada. REU student 2022. For her REU project, Jenavier is asking how fluctuating temperatures affect competition between Daphnia and Ceriodaphnia, and whether disease dilution is more likely in an environment with variable temperature.

Mackenzie Jordan. CURO student 2022. For her CURO project, Mackenzie investigated affects of temperature on susceptibility of two species of zooplankton (Daphnia and Ceriodaphnia) to the fungal parasite Metschnikowia bicuspidata. Warmer temperature increased likelihood of infections in Daphnia, but the pattern was less clear for Ceriodaphnia.

Drew Mancao. CURO student 2022. For his CURO project, Drew investigated how temperature affected competition between two species of zooplankton, Daphnia dentifera and Ceriodaphnia dubia. Preliminary evidence suggests that warmer temperatures may favor Ceriodaphnia, but that outcomes of competition may also vary among genotypes.

August Anderson. CURO Student 2021. For his CURO project, August determined infection prevalence of the endophyte epichloe in tall fescue at Horseshoe Bend (it’s very high!). He also scored fungal damage and measured length of host plant leaves growing in the field.

Hannah O’Grady. REU Student 2021. For her REU project, Hannah asked whether different species of zooplankton infected with microsporidians differed in their spore yield (they do!). Through Hannah’s efforts, we also learned that these parasites cannot be transmitted horizontally between zooplankton, and that they likely have an intermediate host.