|Schmitz Lab at Yale||
Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
B.A., 2015, Providence College, Biology
Click here to download CV.
I am excited to join the Schmitz lab and apply my background in landscape genetics to the study of large carnivores in East Africa. I’m looking forward to applying spatial theory to the conservation of biodiversity. My objective will be to quantify human-wildlife interactions in the East African landscape. The goal will be to apply this information to improving wildlife and landscape management, while promoting coexistence with human livelihoods.
As a senior at Providence College, I worked with Dr. Jonathan Richardson in the the landscape and population genetics study of the Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus). The Norway rat is a vector of leptospirosis and is associated with seasonal outbreaks in the urban slums of Salvador, Brazil. I led the GIS component of the analysis, considering a variety of landscape and environmental features when modelling rat movement – from land cover to road networks to sewage lines. Resulting maps, indicative of rat movement and gene flow, are being relayed to collaborators at Yale’s Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, the Yale School of Public Health, and directly with Brazil’s Ministry of Health. It has been exciting to see how our recommendations are influencing eradication efforts!
This past year, I worked as a research assistant with Dr. Gisella Caccone at the Center for Genetic Analyses of Biodiversity within Yale’s Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. I investigated the landscape genetics of tsetse fly populations in Uganda. The tsetse fly (Glossina species) in the sole vector of sleeping sickness (African trypanosomiasis). Uganda is a critical area to study, as it is the only nation to house both strains of the parasitic agent causing sleeping sickness. In recent years, flies carrying the two different parasites have begun to merge in a hybrid zone. Understanding the consequences of this will be critical in the protection of human health, while studying tsetse movement and isolation will help shed light on potential targets for eradication. Currently, I am compiling environmental features most linked to tsetse fly gene flow. This includes climatic factors like high rainfall and humid, as well as physical features like elevation and habitat types. This will help to produce a map that highlights major tsetse travel routes and isolated populations that are possible targets for eradication.
Email: mary.burak [at] yale.edu
Office: Greeley Laboratory, Rm 119
School of Forestry & Enviro Studies
370 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06511 USA
Richardson, J. L., Burak, M. K., Hernandez, C., Shirvell, J., Mariani, C., Costa, F., Ko, A. I., Caccone, A. In Press. Fine scale patterns of movement and gene flow in Norway rat leptospirosis vectors in Salvador, Brasil.
Costa, F., Richardson, J. L., Dion, K, Mariani, C., Pertile, A. C., Burak, M., Childs, J. E., Ko, A. I., Caccone, A. 2015. Multiple Paternity in the Norway rat, Rattus norvegicus, from Urban Slums in Salvador, Brazil. Journal of Heredity.
Pope, W. H., Bowman, C. A., Russell, D. A. Jacobs-Sera, D., Asai, D. J., Cresawn, S. G., Jacobs Jr., W. R., Hendrix, R. W., Lawrence, J. G., Hatfull, G. F., Science Education Alliance Phage Hunters Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Science, Phage Hunters Integrating Research and Education, Mycobacterial Genetics Course. 2015. Whole genome comparison of a large collection of
mycobacteriophages reveals a continuum of phage genetic diversity. eLIFE. 4: e06416.