FHL 568 | Summer A 2019

Ecology of Infectious Marine Disease 2019

Credits: 9

Instructor(s): Dr. Maya Groner , Dr. Tal Ben-Horin , Dr. Colleen Burge


This course will be a training program in host-pathogen ecology that will bring together and train the future leaders in the rapidly emerging, multidisciplinary field of marine disease ecology. Students in the course will learn techniques to:

1)  survey host-pathogen interactions in the Friday Harbor region

2)  learn how to test Koch’s postulates (to prove that a pathogen causes disease)

3)  identify viral, bacterial, protozoan and metazoan infections

4)  learn and test major theories of disease ecology

5)  practice communicating about disease processes and risk to a variety of audiences

6)  learn genetic and genomic techniques for understanding disease processes

7)  practice building mathematical models of disease

8)  use these methods to address ecological questions about the distribution of pathogenic interactions and the mechanisms underlying them.

A primary goal of the interdisciplinary course is to provide advanced undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral investigators with a broad understanding of host-pathogen interactions as well as the techniques used to study the ecology of marine animals in situ. We provide students with a unique opportunity to use state-of-the-art tools and technologies, do fieldwork in a highly biodiverse environment, join a network of active disease ecologists and collaborate on publishable research projects.

The program will have three core modules, reflecting the strengths of the professors. These include: (1) conducting field surveys and experiments, (2) understanding patterns of biodiversity and disease using DNA barcoding and (3) building mathematical models of marine disease. Each of these modules will be focused on learning a unique skillset while conducting original research on a novel question. Towards the end of the course, students will divide into smaller groups to focus on one of these projects, with the eventual goal (after the course has been finished) of publication. Previous iterations of this structure have resulted in student publications in PLoS One, Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, and Integrative and Comparative Biology.

Instructors for this course are:
Dr. Maya Groner, Research Ecologist, Prince William Sound Science Center
Dr. Colleen Burge, Assistant Professor, Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology, University of Maryland Baltimore County
Dr. Tal Ben-Horin, Agricultural Research Fellow, Department of Fisheries, College of the Environment and Life Sciences, University of Rhode Island

Enrollment is limited to 15 students. No textbook is required for this course.

Note:  Student transcripts from University of Washington will list “FHL 568: Advanced Topics in Ecology and Biomechanics”