Research Interests: microbial ecology, vector/host microbiomes, infection and immunity
My name is Zack and I am an ecologist and microbiologist from Atlanta, GA. I graduated from the University of Georgia in 2014 with a degree in Ecology and Biology. During undergrad my summers, and one semester abroad as a visiting scientist, were focused on marine ecology research with my advisor Dr. Jeb Byers. I pursued projects on predator-prey interaction, parasite ecology, invasion ecology, and ecosystem engineering in intertidal zones. During the academic year I researched the protein trafficking systems of Toxoplasma gondii at the Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases in Dr. Boris Striepen’s parasitology lab.
After graduating I was awarded a two-year fellowship at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention where I studied the microbiomes of disease vectors, including ticks, fleas, and lice. I led two projects during this appointment, including a multi-locus sequence typing (MLST) of the Francisella-like endosymbiont of Ixodid ticks, and a broad, NGS based microbiome survey of ticks, lice, and fleas.
I chose to attend Duke because of the broad research interests of the faculty and the community of interdisciplinary support in MGM. I joined the David lab to research new ways to engineer community structure in the human microbiome to achieve a desired ecosystem service. This work combines my experience in computational biology and ecology and will give me the opportunity to continue to develop both skill sets.
I hope to further develop my knowledge of ecology, genetics and microbiology and apply this knowledge to reducing the public health burden of infectious diseases through research.
Outside of the lab I try to get outside as much as I can and enjoy running, biking, hiking, and camping. In my down time I am an avid reader, mostly of science fiction and fantasy. I also love playing board games with friends.