Sarah A. Orlofske
My research interests are in the field of disease ecology, a growing area within the EBIO department with diverse student and faculty interests. Specifically, I focus on diseases and parasites of amphibians. Currently, I am investigating the transmission mode of trematode free-living stages to their amphibian hosts using Ribeiroia ondatrae, a species implicated in amphibian malformations, as a model system. Understanding transmission is an important requirement for modeling the consequences of a parasite on a host population. Therefore, this work provides an foundation for examining the influence of other biotic factors such as alternative hosts or predators on transmission and subsequent effects on hosts. This ties into my second main research focus, the ecological role of parasites in food webs. I use a variety of research techniques including mathematical modeling, laboratory and mesocosm experiments, and field surveys. My modeling approach has benefited from faculty expertise and new coursework offered in this area. In addition to my research, I am active in the Disease Discussion Group, an informal journal club composed of students, post-docs and faculty, which provides a fun way to broaden our knowledge of disease ecology. I have also been involved in the Evolution Symposium held at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History and the annual EBIO Spring Symposium.