Norah Saarman, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Biology and Ecology Center
Mail/Lab/Office: 5305 Old Main Hill BNR117A/LSB312/LSB333
I am interested in genetic diversity. I use genomics, population genetics, and spatial ecology to investigate where species live, and the genetic and phenotypic traits that allow them to be successful in their environment. My current research integrates geospatial data with these genetic approaches. I am developing a machine learning model that integrates genetic and ecological parameters to predict population-level responses to climate change.
PhD Student, Department of Biology and Ecology Center
I received my bachelors from Westminster College in Neuroscience and Spanish in 2020, and then worked as a COVID-19 Microbiologist at the Utah Public Health Lab before starting at the Saarman Lab in Fall 2021.
I am generally interested in studying disease ecology, microbe-host interactions, and population genetics. I will be investigating the relationship between the insect vector's microbiome and parasites when modeling disease transmission within changing ecosystems. I am especially interested in solving these problems for diseases that pose public health risks.
Ethan K. Meredith
Undergraduate Student, Department of Biology
I am a junior at USU studying human biology. I hope to go to medical school upon finishing my time as an undergraduate. I love what I study. Learning about biology has been so much fun. The complexity of life and its many systems constantly surprises and inspires me.
With other members of the Saarman Lab, I am investigating dispersal and habitat use of the tsetse fly Glossina fuscipes fuscipes, the major vector of sleeping sickness and Animal African trypanosomiasis, in the Lake Victoria region of Uganda.
Saarman Lab Recruiting students
Please contact Dr. Norah Saarman if you are interested in joining the lab! Undergraduates welcome!
The Saarman lab is recruiting undergraduate and graduate students! We are building a collaborative group of highly motivated students and researchers that are eager to contribute to global and local problems that can benefit from accurate prediction of population response to climate change. Research areas include ecological genomics and landscape genetics/genomics in sand flies in the Magdalena Valley in Colombia and/or tsetse flies in Uganda. Candidates are expected to have a strong interest in ecological genomics, landscape genetics, and/or population genetics.
The Department of Biology offers excellent opportunities for education, training, funding, and collaboration. USU is located in the city of Logan in the Cache Valley of northern Utah, which offers a reasonable cost of living, abundant recreation opportunities across all four seasons, and incredible access to numerous National Parks across Utah, Montana, and Wyoming. Please visit the Biology department website for more information: biology.usu.edu/education/graduate-program/prospective_students
Andrés Gómez-Palacio, PhD
Universidad Pedagogica y Tecnologica de Colombia, Biology Department, Avenida Central del Norte 39-115, Tunja, Boyacá, Colombia
I am an Associated Professor of genetics and evolution at the Pedagogical and Technological University of Colombia (UPTC), South America. My research interests involve the population genetics and phylogeography of tropical vector-borne diseases such as Chagas disease and Dengue fever. Most of my work focusses on the insect vectors of these diseases (kissing bugs and mosquitos). I investigate the evolutionary trends, evidence of incipient speciation, population structure and dispersal of these insects. I am currently a visiting researcher at the Connecticut Agriculture Station investigating the demographic history of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes from northern South America. My previous work involved population genetic studies in both the vector and parasites that cause Chagas disease, and the phylogeography of Colombian Ae. aegypti mosquitoes.
Currently, my major research interest is in the evolutionary forces driving the current distribution of several species of Colombian vectors in order to inform biologically strategic strategies for future vector control and surveillance in Colombia and other northern South America countries. Together, Dr. Saarman and I are developing a project investigating the genetic connectivity, adaptive potential, and distribution of the sand fly Lutzomyia longipalpis in the Magdalena Valley in Colombia. This sand fly is the vector of two types of leishmaniasis: the deadly form of the disease known as visceral leishmaniasis, and the more wide-spread but mild form of the disease known as cutaneous leishmaniasis.
Robert Opiro, PhD
Lecturer and Head of Ag.
Gulu University, Department of Biology, Gulu, Uganda, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Opiro is interested in population genomics of insects. He is a Lecturer and serves as the Ag. Head of the Department of Biology at Gulu University, at a public university in northern Uganda.
Together we are developing a project investigating the genetic connectivity, adaptive potential, and distribution of the tsetse fly Glossina fuscipes fuscipes, the major vector of sleeping sickness and Animal African trypanosomiasis, as well as the sand fly Lutzomyia donovani, a vector of leishmaniasis. We are focusing on these vectors in northern Uganda, a region of sub-Saharan Africa that has had many challenges in the 21st century due to recent civil unrest (remember Joseph Kony and the Lord's Resistance Army ?), but has seen many recent improvements in infrastructure and opportunity! This is a vital time for northern Uganda to realize its potential in promoting human health and well-being, as well as conserving its stunning biodiversity and rich cultural heritage. Did you know there are 43 living languages spoken in Uganda! Many of these languages have their origins in northern Uganda, the focus region of our work.
University of California Berkeley, Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, email@example.com
I am currently a PhD student in the Wang Lab at UC Berkeley conducting research on the landscape genomics of fence lizards. I am interested in integrating genomic and environmental data to study how spatiotemporal variation in landscapes shapes connectivity and adaptation under climate change.
My undergraduate work in the Caccone Lab at Yale, where I worked with Dr. Saarman, involved applying machine learning methods to build spatial models of habitat suitability and genetic connectivity. I used field survey, environmental, and genotypic data to create suitability and connectivity maps for tsetse flies to inform spatially explicit vector control in sub-Saharan Africa.
My broader research interests align well with the Saarman lab, and include ecological genomics, landscape genetics/genomics, and spatial ecology. We are continuing our collaboration remotely, and enjoy bouncing ideas off each other in our quest to develop and evaluate creative new ways of predicting population response to climate change.