|Schmitz Lab at Yale||
Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
B.A., 2015, Providence College, Biology
Click here to download CV.
Broadly, I am interested in understanding how human activities and land use can effect wildlife abundance, movement, and gene flow. I am especially interested in how these effects influence human-wildlife interactions in non-protected areas, where land management tradeoffs between biodiversity conservation and land development can have cascading effects on both wildlife and human communities. For my dissertation research, I use a variety of field techniques as well as genetic analysis to investigate the effects of human activity on large carnivore communities in central Kenya. I am interested in using these types of data to construct predictive models that can better inform land management decisions, and better support human-wildlife coexistence.
Center for Genetic Analysis of Biodiversity/Yale University – From 2015-2016, I worked as a research assistant and lab technician for Dr. Gisella Caccone. We investigated the landscape genetics of tsetse fly populations in Uganda. The tsetse fly in the sole vector of sleeping sickness and, consequently tsetse control is critical to disease control. The objectives of this study included pinpointing geographic areas with minimized risk of tsetse reinvasion to be targeted by control efforts.
Providence College – From 2014-2015, I conducted my undergraduate senior thesis research with Dr. Jonathan Richardson on 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 of the disease in the urban slums of Salvador, Brazil. I led the GIS component of the analysis, investigating which landscape and environmental features help or hinder rat movement. You can read more about results from this project here and here.
School for Field Studies – In 2014, I conducted directed research with John Mwamhanga, M.S. based out of the School for Field Studies’ Karatu, Tanzania campus. We investigated the ecological status of Buger Community Forest, a forest undergoing management change in the Karatu District of Tanzania. Field work involved flora and fauna identification, assessment of forest disturbance, and community interviews.
Email: mary.burak [at] yale.edu
Office: Greeley Laboratory, Rm 119
School of Forestry & Enviromental Studies
370 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06511 USA
Burak, M.K., Monk, J.D., and Schmitz, O.J. Accepted. Eco-Evolutionary Dynamics: The Predator-Prey Adaptive Play and the Ecological Theater. Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. Invited Manuscript.
Saarman, N., Burak, M.K.*, Opiro, R., Hyseni, C., Echodu, R., Opiyo, E.A., Dion, K., Dunn, A.W., Aksoy, S., and Caccone, A.. Accepted. Applications of spatial genetics to improve habitat suitability modelling and inform vector control efforts of Glossina fuscipes fuscipes. Ecology & Evolution.
Richardson, J.L., Burak, M.K., Hernandez, C., Shirvell, J.M., Mariani, C., Carvalho-Pereira, T.S.A., Pertile, A.C., Panti-May, J.A., Pedra, G.G., Serrano, S., et al. (2017). Using fine-scale spatial genetics of Norway rats to improve control efforts and reduce leptospirosis risk in urban slum environments. Evolutionary Applications, 10: 323–337.
Costa, F., Richardson, J.L., Dion, K., Mariani, C., Pertile, A.C., Burak, M.K., 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, 107: 181–186.
*Indicates shared first-authorship