Holly L. Lutz
PhD student, Cornell University
Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
- Co-advisor: Michael Stanhope (Dpt. Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences)
- Co-advisor: André Dhondt (Dpt. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology)
- John Fitzpatrick (Executive Director, Cornell Lab of Ornithology)
- Irby Lovette (Director, Fuller Evolutionary Biology Program, Cornell Lab of Ornithology)
- Shannon Hackett (Head, Division of Birds, Field Museum of Natural History)
I am interested in the evolution of malarial parasites and closely related haemosporidians in wildlife. I focus mainly on Plasmodium and Haemoproteus from avian hosts in the eastern Afrotropics (Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo), though I also study parasites of birds from the Neotropics (Peru, Nicaragua, Brazil) and haemosporidian parasites of old world bats. Haemosporidian parasites are incredibly diverse, and maintain labile relationships with their hosts through space and time. In addition to describing many new parasite lineages from these poorly sampled regions of the world, I am using a phylogenomic approach to study diversification, host specialization, and host-switching of parasites between vertebrate classes.
My research is intimately connected to the Field Museum of Natural History (Chicago, IL), where a strong interface between scientific research and science communication exists. I am very interested in exploring ways to share research findings with the general public, and I am passionate about exposing others to the "behind-the-scenes" world of research and scientific collecting at museums. I have therefore worked to maintain my involvement with outreach and training programs at the Field Museum, despite having a full time commitment to my graduate work. I believe that dedicating time and energy to these various endeavors is important, and I find it to be very complementary to my graduate research at Cornell. Recently, I have been involved with several media productions that document discovery in the field (and in the lab!), and I am currently working on a documentary of my latest expedition in Uganda, with the aid of the media production unit at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology - so stay tuned!
View a recent documentary of our 2011 expedition to Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique (produced by colleague Federico Pardo): Discovering Mount Gorongosa