What We Do

Welcome to the McKenzie Lab

Our lab studies a diverse array of organisms: from bacteria to coyotes.

We are based out of the University of Colorado in beautiful Boulder, Colorado. Our projects take us from our backyard to habitats all over the globe.

Parasites and pathogens are ubiquitous and rival the diversity of free-living plants and animals on the planet. With rapid global climate and environmental change, we are beginning to observe increases in certain parasites and infectious diseases in humans, plants and wildlife. In order to understand patterns of emerging disease across the diverse spectrum of parasitic organisms, we must integrate several disciplines and ask questions at scales ranging from genetic and population levels to community and ecosystem levels.

My research program combines the fields of parasitology, disease ecology, microbial ecology, and wildlife conservation. I am interested in understanding the ways in which anthropogenic disturbances affect the parasites, pathogens, and symbiotic microbes of wildlife. In the realm of conservation biology, the goal of my research is to identify key factors that lead to shifts in the abundance and distribution of parasites and pathogens in order to offer ecologically informed solutions to mitigate disease threats to vulnerable wildlife. From a theoretical perspective, I am interested in the symbiotic relationships between animals and microbial organisms and how those interactions can shape biological functions ranging from disease resistance to evolution of new traits.