The Elderd Lab

Summer 2022: Hollie Payne, Madeline Broyles, Michael Gravey, Kaden Keller, Lucy Detweiler, Scott Grimmell, Bret Elderd, Nathaniel Haulk, and Kale Costanza. (Not pictured - Jason Janeaux, Laila Polk, and Robert Richards).

Dr. Bret Elderd


Department of Biological Sciences

Louisiana State University

My research focuses on examining how disease outbreaks, community structure, and environmental variation influence population dynamics by combining field experiments and theoretical models. I'm particularly interested in:

•  Host-pathogen interactions

•  Variability within and between populations in disease transmission

•  Population viability and rare species management

If you're interested in joining my research group, please email me. I'm seeking graduate students and post-docs to work on projects involving either population or community ecology. In particular, I take a quantitative approach to ecological questions and would require that my students have some interest in mathematical ecology/modeling. While students may work on projects closely affiliated with my research, I encourage them to seek out their own research identity.


Forrest Dillemuth (2013-2017)

Forrest studied the effects of climate change on host-pathogen interactions using an insect host and a species-specific baculovirus.  In this system, the host must consume the virus to become infected. The host also consumes the leaf tissue on which the virus resides.  He also worked on a number of other project including: 1) the effects of plant genetic diversity on host-pathogen transmission dynamics in this tri-trophic system; and 2) interactions between cannibalism and disease transmission.

Graduate Students

Scott Grimmell

Scott is currently looking at host-pathogen coevolutionary dynamics and how global climate change will affect both virulence and transmission using the fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda, and its lethal baculovirus. He is addressing these issues using both empirical and theoretical approaches.

Jason Janeaux

Jason is interested in disease transmission across sexual contact networks.

Undergraduate Assistants

Past Lab Members

Post-doctoral Researchers

Miquel Acevedo (2013-2014)

Miguel worked on constructing mechanistic models of disease transmission.  His work focused on examining the influence of plant defenses on diffusion rates of fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) larvae.  He also conducted a meta-analysis of the virulence-transmission tradeoff and used Bayesian techniques to fit data to epidemic models.  Currently, Miguel is an assistant professor at the University of Florida.  

Miguel's Web Page

James Reilly (2009-2011)

James worked on a number of different projects related to epizootic dynamics.  He developed a model examining the use of baculoviruses as a biocontrol agent and how it affects gypsy moth population dynamics.  The field component of his work examined how climate change will affect host-pathogen interactions.  Currently, James is a post-doctoral researcher with Rachael Winfree at Rutgers University.

Maynard Milks (2009-2011)

Maynard examined how plant induced defenses and systemic acquired responses affected baculovirus disease transmission in the cabbage looper (Trichoplusia ni).  Currently, Maynard is working on baculovirus dynamics in British Columbia.

Undergraduate Assistants

Matthew Faldyn (2013-2019), Ph.D.

Matt is currently a Visting Assitant Professor at Claremont College.

Olivia Barry (2014)

Olivia is a proud graduate of LSU.

Graduate Students

Kyle McCauley (2009-2011)

Kyle received a Masters in Epidemiology at the University of Texas at Houston.  He currently is working as program coordinator at the University of Texas at Houston Health Science Center.

William Vial (2010-2012)

William is currently pursuing his M.D. at Tulane University.

Kacie Dillon (2010-2011)

Kacie is a resident physician at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center.

Ben Van Allen (2014-2016)

Ben’s work focused on various aspects of population and disease dynamics.  He examined how a tri-trophic interaction between a pathogen, an herbivore host, and a plant on which the host feeds affects the spatial spread of the pathogen in the environment. Ben also investigated how cannibalism affects disease transmission in the same insect host-pathogen system.  Currently, Ben is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of California, San Diego.

Ben's Web Page

Madeline Broyles, Lucy Detweiler, Kaden Keller, Hollie Payne, and Laila Polk.

Past Lab Photos

David Clark (2014-2016)

David completed his Masters degree with Miguel Acevedo and is now working on his Ph.D. with Jess Stephenson at the University of Pittsburgh.

Logan Chapman (2015)

Logan works at Tulane University as a Success Coach.

Laura Syori (2015)

Laura is a proud graduate of Southern University.

Aaron Miller (2015)

Aaron is a proud graduate of LSU.

McCayn McDaniel (2015)

McCayn is a proud graduate of LSU.

Michael Fitzpatrick (2016)

Michael is a proud graduate of LSU.

Jack Miller (2016)

Jack is a proud graduate of LSU.

Tatum Lyles (2016)

Tatum graduated from LSU and is working at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Ryan Riley (2016)

Ryan is a proud graduate of LSU.

Post-doctoral Researchers

Michael Garvey

Michael received his Ph.D. in Entomology at Purdue University in May of 2018 prior to joining the Elderd Lab. His dissertation research focused on tritrophic interactions, examining how plant defenses effect insect susceptibility to parasitoids. He is excited to expand his current knowledge on insect-parasite interactions by conducting research on virus infections in Spodoptera spp., assessing how plant defenses influence susceptibility to pathogens at different landscape scales, and how host-pathogen coevolution shapes disease dynamics.

Michael Garvey Photo

Elderd Lab Group

The People

Andrew Flick (2012-2019), Ph.D.

Andrew is currently working at the Evolutionary Studies Institute at Vanderbilt.

Adriana Dantin (2009-2012), Masters of Natural Science

Adriana is currently working with BioMedical Solutions.

Jessica Francisco (2018-2020)

Schyler Lee (2018-2019)

Jessica is now a proud graduate of LSU.

Peter Issa (2019-2020)

Schyler is now a proud graduate of LSU and is pursuing a Masters in Entomology at LSU.

Daniel Woodruff (2020)

Peter is now a proud graduate of LSU and is pursuing a degree in medicine at LSU.

Daniel is back at Emory pursuing his Bachelors.

Nathaniel Haulk

Nathan is interested in understanding how the host's transcriptome dictates pathogen susceptibility.

Lab Manager

Kale Costanza

Bret Elderd Photo

Robert Richards (co-advised w/ Tad Dallas)

Robbie received his Ph.D. from the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia. He is currently working on model complexity and model structure as related to the current COVID-19 pandemic as well as on a number of other disease modeling projects.

Kale graduated from Louisiana State University in May of 2021 with a bachelor's degree in Animal Sciences and Natural Resources and Management.

Paige Long (2021-2022).

Paige completed her honors thesis and is now a proud graduate of LSU.