Dr. Gui Becker awarded NSF Rules of Life grant to study wildlife disease

Dr. Gui Becker was awarded funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Rules of Life funding scheme for a project titled “RoL: The Scale of Resistance: Landscape to Microbiome-level Processes Regulating Acquired Disease Resistance.” Understanding how species cope with disease in an era of global change is of fundamental importance to the field of ecology and to the stability of wildlife populations. Anthropogenic deforestation is frequently associated with increases in wildlife disease. These patterns are expected to stem from both landscape-scale processes, such as changes in animal movement and disease transmission, and fine-scale processes, such as changes in the community of microbes that inhabit animal tissues (collectively termed the microbiome), but the interplay between these multi-scale processes are unresolved. Our project seeks to investigate the interaction between deforestation and the microbiome as a process to explain patterns of disease emergence across disturbed landscapes, using amphibians of Brazil’s Atlantic Forest as a model system. Our work stands apart from previous studies by integrating landscape-scale and microbe-scale processes into a unified framework that will advance microbial, disease, and global change ecology. In partnership with the Alabama Museum of Natural History, we will also manufacture and implement a series of portable mini exhibits and school activities with the goal of narrowing the K-12 science education gap in one of the most underserved areas in the nation. Dr. Becker is the lead principal investigator on the project and is collaborating with Dr. Douglas Woodhams (UMass Boston) and Dr. Sasha Greenspan, a current postdoctoral researcher in the Becker lab who will be promoted to Research Associate under the project. Congratulations all!