The impact of parasites on the evolution of immune systems
I am an Assistant Professor in the Vanderbilt University Department of Biological Sciences (Jan. 2017 – present). My research focuses on understanding reciprocal ecological and evolutionary feedbacks between hosts and parasites, using a combination of theoretical and empirical approaches to zoom back and forth between the molecular details and the population level processes.
Before moving to Vanderbilt I was a USDA NIFA postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Houston, mentored by Tim Cooper. I completed my Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University (advised by Andrea L. Graham), and received my B.S. from Rice University.
Organisms have evolved an array of life history strategies that reflect the tension of maximizing fitness in a world beset with predators, parasites, and hostile environments. In the Tate Lab, we are particularly interested in understanding the impact of parasites on the evolution of immune systems, and the conflicts that arise when organisms need to balance investment in immunity with other life history traits.
To this end, we couple theoretical approaches with experiments on tractable beetle systems to explore the causes and consequences of variation in both infection and immunity at the molecular, organismal, and population levels of biological organization.