Keynote Speakers

Maria Diuk-Wasser, PhD: Dr. Maria Diuk-Wasser is a Professor of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology at Columbia University. She is interested in elucidating the environmental and anthropogenic factors driving the emergence of vector-borne and zoonotic diseases. Her research integrates laboratory, field and a range of modeling approaches to predict human disease risk. Her current focus is on how pathogen interactions at multiple scales (within host, population, community and regionally) influence the recent emergence of tick-borne pathogens in the United States. In endemic areas, she studies how human behavior and landscape modification influence human infection and disease. Her current research focuses on tick-borne pathogens, but she has also worked on West Nile virus, malaria, dengue and leptospirosis. Other research interests include landscape ecology, population and community ecology, evolutionary ecology, behavioral ecology and conservation biology.


Additional Speakers

Rebecca Trout Fryxell, PhD: Dr. Trout Fryxell is an Associate Professor at the University of Tennessee.




Tim McDermott, DVM: Dr. McDermott is an Assistant Professor of Agriculture and Natural Resources in the Department of Extension within the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University. Dr. McDermott routinely travels across the state of Ohio where he gives presentations to numerous groups about tick identification, removal and prevention, as well as the threats that ticks and tick-borne diseases pose to human and animal health.

Melissa Nolan, PhD, MPH:Dr Melissa Nolan is an Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the University of South Carolina. Her training includes a postdoctoral fellowship in Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Texas Children’s Hospital and PhD in Clinical Investigation at Baylor College of Medicine. Her research focuses on geographic distribution, novel diagnostic methods, and clinical presentation of emerging tick-borne diseases in the Americas. She serves as the Deputy Director of the CDC’s Southeastern Center of Vector-Borne Diseases and the Director of the USC’s Institute of Infectious Disease Translational Research.

Risa Pesapane, PhD: Dr. Pesapane is an Assistant Professor with joint appointments in the Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine within the College of Veterinary Medicine and the School of Environment and Natural Resources within the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University. Her research focuses on the impact of ticks and mites on human and animal health, understanding the ecological drivers of tick abundance and disease transmission, as well as how to manage ticks and mites in animals of conservation importance. Dr. Pesapane’s research is interdisciplinary and integrative; taking a One Health approach she collaborates with state and federal agencies, zoos, non-profit organizations and universities. Currently her lab is spearheading tick identification efforts in Ohio. Dr. Pesapane is also responsible for finding and reporting the Asian longhorned tick in Ohio, and developing educational outreach materials to inform the public of the threats this and other invasive and emerging ticks pose. Click here for a link to her website.

Afsoon Sabet: Afsoon is a current PhD student in the Department of Entomology at The Ohio State University. She is broadly interested in vector dynamics and ecology, and will be examining the spatiotemporal dynamics and ecology of different tick species, both native and nonnative, for her doctoral work.



Joyce Sakamoto, PhD: Dr. Sakamoto is an Assistant Research Professor at The Pennsylvania State University.





Jean Tsao, PhD: Dr. Tsao is an Associate Professor at Michigan State University.





Allison Williams, MS: Allison Williams is a current PhD student and previous M.S. student in the School of Environment and Natural Resources at Ohio State University. As a master’s student, she studied the habitat, climate, and host relationships of the blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis) across several spatial scales. Using this research, she developed the first spatially-explicit blacklegged tick distribution models for Ohio. She is interested in landscape ecology and is currently learning to combine mathematic and genetic techniques to study landscape-level questions. For her PhD, she is applying these techniques to study the landscape and genetic connectivity of barn owl populations across several midwestern states.