Our Team

Professors

Dr. Miller holds a joint appointment as a professor in the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, and professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine. She is also the Director of the Center for Wildlife Health at UTIA. Her research focuses on wildlife diseases and how their emergence and prevalence are affected by human activity. The scope of her studies includes freshwater, marine and terrestrial species.


Post-Doctoral Scientists

Dr. Rebecca Hardman is a veterinarian and PhD student at the University of Tennessee. She did her undergraduate work at Boston University and Master’s in Biology at Western Carolina University. Through her research and training she has had the opportunity to observe the vast amount of unique and region-specific challenges conservationists face around the globe and is particularly interested in approaching some of these challenges by researching wildlife health and disease. Her current research applies diagnostic and laboratory techniques from veterinary pathology and immunology towards understanding wild amphibian health.


Research Associates

Markese is leading research on how aquatic and terrestrial habitat structure and host density can affect salamander contact rates and influence Bsal transmission. Markese grew up in Okinawa, Japan and earned a BA in biological sciences from Lubbock Christian University in Texas. He is broadly interested epidemiology of wildlife pathogens and zoonoses.

Dr. Watcharaanantapong is from Bangkok, Thailand. She graduated from the Department of Animal Science, Kasetsart University in Thailand and has earned two Master’s degrees (one from Chulalongkorn University in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics and the second in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of Tennessee). She attended the doctoral program in Natural Resource with an emphasis in Natural Resource Economics. In the Amphibian Disease Laboratory, Tan investigates the epidemiology and potential impacts of an invasive fungal pathogen (Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans) on ecosystems in the United States. Tan works with controlled experiments with the host and pathogen, diagnostic testing, and assists data entry, organization and analysis.

Christian Yarber picture
Christian Yarber

Christian Yarber rejoined the Gray-Miller lab in 2020 as a research associate working on various Bsal-related projects. He earned his BS in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Statistics here at UT where he worked previously as a research technician for the Gray lab before leaving to pursue an MS in biology at Washington State University in Pullman. There he lead research projects addressing the detection of Bsal in water and substrate using environmental DNA sampling techniques in hopes of improving surveillance for this pathogen in the international trade in amphibians. He is currently completing his analyses and writing at UT with support from the Gray lab. While at WSU, working in the Franceschi Microscopy and Imaging Center, he also assisted in creating a new method to estimate Bsal zoospore encystment rates on salamander skin using scanning electron microscopy. He is generally very excited about amphibians, gardening, and his beloved pug, Darwin.

Joe DeMarchi joined the Gray-Miller lab in 2020 as a research associate working on various Bsal – related projects. He earned his BS in Biology at Allegheny College, in Meadville, PA where he began his research career investigating Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). Working with Dr. Matthew Venesky, he investigated, feeding rates, behavioral and physiological changes, and stress responses of infected amphibians. Joe continued his education earning a MS in Biology from John Carroll University. At JCU he worked with Dr. Carl Anthony and built off his previous research. He identified polymorphic differences in a common terrestrial salamander under environmental stressors temperature and disease.


Graduate Students

Davis is a PhD student in the Gray Lab. He earned his BS in Biology at Hampden-Sydney College, in Hampden-Sydney, VA, where he began his research career studying viruses in the genus Ranavirus. Working with Dr. Rachel Goodman, he investigated the prevalence of ranavirus in squamates and chelonians located in Prince Edward County Virginia. Following his graduation from Hampden-Sydney College in 2015, he moved to Knoxville to work in Dr. Matt Gray’s lab as a technician assisting in several ranavirus experiments, which evaluated how poor biosecurity could result in transmission of wildlife diseases. Davis then began his MS in Wildlife and Fisheries Science, studying the impact re-occurring ranavirus mortality events have on amphibian populations within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. His current research focuses on understanding the epidemiology of Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal).

Dr. Wesley Sheley is a veterinary anatomic pathologist who completed her undergraduate and veterinary degrees at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and then went on to complete an anatomic pathology residency with the University of California, Davis and San Diego Zoo Global. She is now working towards her PhD in the Gray/Miller lab under Dr. Debra Miller with the NSF-funded Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans project. She has a strong interest in wildlife conservation and infectious disease with a special interest in both freshwater and saltwater aquatic species. After completing her PhD she hopes to work at a university as an anatomic pathologist along with participating in wildlife conservation research.

Adri is a Master’s student in the Gray Lab. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Biology with a minor in Zoology at Colorado State University. During her undergraduate career, she became interested in wildlife health and worked as a student lab assistant at the USDA APHIS National Wildlife Research Center. She also attended the Mountain Lake Biological Station REU program, where she studied parasite co-infection and immune response of wild mice in southwest Virginia. After graduating in 2018, she began working in the endocrinology lab at the Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) at the Cincinnati Zoo. At CREW, she conducted a five-month study investigating serum hormones in polar bears and their potential implications as biomarkers for reproductive processes. Her graduate research focuses on investigating disease transmission and potential treatments for Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal). Following her Master’s, Adri is interested in pursuing her PhD and hopes to work as a wildlife disease ecologist and researcher.

Ana is a student at the UT College of Veterinary Medicine, class of 2020. She started working in the Gray-Miller lab the summer after her first year of vet school on a flow cytometry project aimed at distinguishing and enumerating viable and non-viable Bsal zoospores. She continued the following summer, switching focus to histopathology and in-situ hybridization. After graduating vet school, Ana will continue working in the lab and pursuing her PhD. She hopes to build her career around contributing to wildlife research efforts in the future along with working as a clinical zoo veterinarian, tying together her interests in wildlife disease ecology, pathology, reproduction and conservation.


DVM Students

Arin is a student in the UT College of Veterinary Medicine, class of 2021. She has a strong interest in wildlife disease, population health, and conservation. Originally from Memphis, Tennessee, she earned a bachelors of science in biology/chemistry in 2017. She entered veterinary school after graduating and and has enjoyed everything UT has had to offer. Arin came to learn about wildlife diseases, especially Bsal, under Dr. Miller, which has led her to become a part of the ADL team this summer. She looks forward to seeing how a career in veterinary medicine can encompass treating all species, great and small.


Undergraduate Students

Alex Funk is an undergraduate in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. He is currently investigating salamander evolution, ecology and disease in the Fitzpatrick and Gray labs. His current research interests involve evolutionary responses to change, invasion biology and conservation science, all with a strong emphasis on herpetofaunal conservation. Following graduation, he hopes to obtain a PhD and conduct research pertinent to the understanding and conservation of global herpetofauna.

Caleb is an enthusiastic undergrad research tech who joined the lab in the spring of 2019. He is currently studying Biology with concentrations in microbiology and ecology and evolutionary biology as well as a minor in GIS. After completing his undergraduate studies, he hopes to pursue a Master’s degree or PhD and work in conservation biology.

Megan is an undergraduate student from Sparta, TN, majoring in Microbiology with a minor in Honors Leadership Studies. Someday, she hopes to research emerging infectious diseases, and she is considering attending medical or graduate school to study to become an infectious disease specialist. Currently, Megan volunteers with Remote Area Medical and is a member of Alpha Epsilon Delta, a professional pre-medical fraternity.


Recent Lab Alumni

Dr. Kurt Ash (research associate)

Bailee Augustino (undergraduate researcher)

Brittany Bajo (research technician)

Dr. Roberto Brenes (PhD student)

Dr. Patrick Cusaac (post-doc; CDC)

Dr. Julia Earl (NIMBioS post-doc)

Dr. Yi Geng (Visiting Scientists, Sichuan Agricultural University)

Brian Gleaves (undergraduate researcher)

Dr. Agata Grzelak (DVM resident)

Dr. Kevin Hamed (PhD student)

Dr. Jennifer Howard (DVM student)

Dr. Jason Hoverman (post-doc)

Jake Kolevar (undergraduate researcher)

Rajeev Kumar (undergraduate researcher)

Carson Lillard (undergraduate researcher)

Allison Graham (DVM student)

Dr. Suzanne O’Regan (NIMBioS post-doc)

Dr. Angela Peace (NIMBioS post-doc)

Dr. Anna Peterson (post-doc; CDC)

Ciaria Sheets (undergraduate researcher)

Jenny Spatz (research associate)

Dr. Bill Sutton (post-doc)

Adam Walker (research technician)

Daniel Malagon (UT Chancellor’s scholar and honors student)