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Principal investigator

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Miguel A. Acevedo
I am an assistant professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Puerto Rico in Río Piedras. I feel very lucky to be able to dedicate my life to be an “ecological detective” solving the mysteries of nature. In this journey I collaborate with lots of really cool and smart people including mathematicians, statisticians, engineers, computer scientists, geographers, epidemiologists, and wildlife ecologists. Modeling is one of my favorite tools to solve these mysteries because they can reduce complex problems into a few number of equations and assumptions. I enjoy critical thinking, music and salsa dancing!


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Emily Díaz

Emily is our genetics expert. She has a bachelors degree in Biotechnology and a masters degree in Molecular Biotechnology. Her main duty is to assist in the molecular aspects of on-going projects such as quantification of parasitemia of Plasmodium in Anolis lizards using qPCR techniques and identifying the presence in potential vectors.

Graduate researchers

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David Clark Jr.

David is a MS’ candidate studying the evolutionary relationship between Anolis gundlachi and Plasmodium azurophilum. Dave is interested in quantifying the negative physiological and behavioral change in the anole with differing levels of parasitemia, and how these changes can translate into population and community dynamics.

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Nicole Gutiérrez

Nicole is a MS graduate student interested in studying how landscape features influence WNV in urban environments.

Undergraduate researchers

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Virnaliz Cruz

Between-individual variation of same population organisms that promote differences in the fitness and phenotypic traits is the building block for natural selection and microevolution. However, at a lower scale, the variation at a within individual level, was often attributed to a plastic response to local biotic and abiotic interactions. Recently this idea has been changing and we are interested in the ecological and evolution implications of within-individual variation. We are studying this in the Anolis-malaria system, by measuring variation of erythrocytes as a response of presence or absence of Plasmodium azurophilum infection.

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Judith Reyes

Judith is a biology major undergraduate student part of the MARC program. She is working with the identification of the vector(s) of lizard malaria in Puerto Rican anoles. Her work involves field work, identifying mosquitoes and molecular diagnostics. After graduating, Judith would like to pursue a Ph.D. in Infectious Diseases with a focus on vector-borne diseases.

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Gilberto Padua

Gilberto is working on his undergraduate degree in cellular-molecular biology. For his capstone project he is studying the consequences of malarial co-infection in anoles body condition. He wishes to go into medical school to become an orthopedic surgeon.