Claire Sanderson

Research Associate, Wildlife Disease and Conservation

Research Summary:

Claire Sanderson joined Dr. Alexander’s lab in September 2011 as a postdoctoral research fellow. She earned her PhD in Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney. Her work focused on the intersection of infectious disease, genomics, and immune gene diversity in the study of marsupials and monotremes. She has worked on diverse host-pathogen systems from DFTD in the Tasmanian devil to Mucormycosis in the platypus. Following her PhD, she moved to South Africa where she was a senior research assistant for the University of Zurich studying the behavioural ecology of slender mongooses and meerkats in the Kalahari Desert.

Her current research in Dr. Alexander's lab is directed at exploring behavior influences on host-pathogen interactions using the banded mongoose and the emergence of Mycobacterium mungi, a novel strain of tuberculosis. Dr. Sanderson also studies the role of Allee effects in social carnivore populations, the role of group size on functional gene diversity in African wild dogs and is currently working on Dr. Alexander’s NSF-funded project exploring the transmission dynamics of microorganisms between human and wildlife populations, and how this influences water quality in the Chobe region of Botswana.Her research interests broadly encompass behavioural ecology, disease ecology, conservation biology and population genetics. 


Sanath Krishna Muliya Keshava

Senior Veterinarian and Project Manager - Botswana Field Site

Research Summary:

Sanath joined Dr. Alexander's Lab in February 2017 as Senior Veterinarian and Project Manager to the Botswana Field Site. He earned his bachelor's degree in Veterinary Sciences and Animal Husbandry with Honors from Bangalore Veterinary College, India in 2011 and received his Master's in Wildlife Sciences in 2013 from the Institute of Wildlife Veterinary Research, India. He started his career as Wildlife Health Professional with a zoological setup and subsequently worked with various governmental and non-governmental organizations across India at varying capacities.

Sanath has worked on diverse ecological and conservation projects involving species such as the Indian tigers, Indian leopards and Himalayan Wolves in unique landscapes varying from evergreen forests to high-altitude cold deserts of India, basically providing veterinary support in their capture and telemetry studies. His expertise in Wild animal capture and restraint was also extensively used in providing veterinary support to various State wildlife agencies of India in managing wild animals in distress or to mitigate human-wildlife conflict. Before joining us, he was affiliated with Wildlife Institute of India as Project Vet under National Tiger Conservation Authority to strengthen veterinary interventions in tiger reserves of India and to support capacity building workshops and training programs organized by the institute. His current role with Dr. Alexander's Lab includes coordinating all the research programs being operated at Botswana field site and developing future research programs under Dr. Alexander's guidance. He is also responsible for the veterinary care and husbandry of the animal collection at CARACAL and assists the Botswana Government in wildlife health matters as per the need.


Lena C. Patiño

Wildlife Ecologist/Veterinarian Researcher

Research Summary:

Lena C. Patiño W. joined Dr. Alexander's lab in March 2017 as a Wildlife Ecologist/Veterinarian Researcher. She earned her DVM from Universidad Autónoma Gabriel René Moreno (Santa Cruz, Bolivia) in 2006 and received a Master's in Conservation Medicine with emphasis in Ecosystemic Health from the Universidad Nacional (Heredia, Costa Rica) in 2016. Her Master's researched focused on detection of avian tuberculosis and psittacid herpesvirus in endangered free-living scarlet macaw (Ara macao) in Costa Rica. She worked in small animal and no conventional pet praxis and supported different wildlife projects, referring conflict in the human-wildlife interface, training of indigenous communities for wildlife research and wildlife health in Bolivia.

Lena's primary role with Dr. Alexander's lab will be coordinating the banded mongoose project. This project aims at understanding how various environmental, social and behavioral factors may influence infectious disease transmission pathways and infection probabilities in social carnivores, using banded mongoose and Mycobacterium mungi as a model study system. Lena will also collaborate with the data collection on the Chobe River water quality research project and participate in a number of other wildlife projects for CARACAL.

Carol Nichols

Carol Anne Nichols

MS Student, Wildlife Conservation

Research Summary:

Carol Anne joined Dr. Alexander's lab in Fall 2015 to pursue her master's degree researching how variation in perceived risks by banded mongooses (Mungos mungo) across heterogeneous landscapes affect particular behaviors known to influence disease transmission of Mycobacterium mungi. She earned her B.S. in Wildlife Science and Forestry at Virginia Tech. She has assisted with a wide range of field projects and while assisting with research projects for CARACAL in northern Botswana she became interested in the ongoing-banded mongoose project.

For the current project, she will document banded mongoose behavior from camera-trap photos placed in locations across the region varying in both anthropogenic and natural influences. Her experience in both the United States and Botswana has sparked her interests for understanding how heterogeneity across the landscape ultimately influences wildlife populations.

K. Verble, MS Student

Sarah Medley

Masters Student

Sarah Medley joined Dr. Alexander's research lab in Spring 2017 to pursue a Master's degree. She earned her B.S in Environmental Science with a concentration in Biology from The University of Virginia's College at Wise in 2015. As an undergraduate she received NSF funding through the Virginia Tech StREAM Lab REU to identify fecal contamination sources in Blacksburg using microbial source tracking techniques, and she worked on various projects with NASA DEVELOP National Program exploring the applications of remote sensing data to community concerns. Prior to pursuing her Master's she worked as a Watershed Technician with Trout Unlimited and the Forest Service in West Virginia.

Her research interests include resolving problems in water quality and watershed management, and the impacts of poor water quality on human and ecosystem health. Her current research project will focus on using microbial source tracking to identify hot spots of fecal contamination in the Chobe River study area. Her data will contribute to understanding how water quality may be impacting human health outcomes in Northern Botswana.

K. Verble, MS Student

Kelton Verble

Masters Student

My research interests include wildlife conservation genetics, disease ecology, and population dynamic assessments. I earned my B.S. in Wildlife from Purdue University in May of 2016. As an undergraduate, I provided assistance for various research projects that introduced me to genetic analysis and disease surveillance techniques.

For the current project, I will be using microsatellite genotyping together with observational data to determine inbreeding, relatedness within and between banded mongoose (Mungos mungo) troops. I will also be estimating troop dispersal and fusion/fission events across a diverse landscape. The resulting outputs will be incorporated into infectious disease transmission models dealing with a novel, emerging tuberculosis pathogen (Mycobacterium mungi) infecting banded mongoose in Botswana.

Undergraduate Students

M. Fox
Madalyn Fox,
Animal & Poultry Sciences
M. Wright
Michelle "Max" Wright,
Wildlife Conservation
E. Schlake
Emily Schlake,
Wildlife Conservation
& Animal and Poultry Sciences
A. Ives
Alexandra Ives,
Wildlife Conservation
A. Hayden
Amelia Hayden,
Wildlife Conservation &
O. Huggins
Omar Huggins
Wildlife Conservation
M. Kretzing
Morgan Kretzing
Animal and Poultry Sciences
A. Kurowski
Andrew Kurowski
Wildlife Conservation
Lanie Epper
Wildlife Conservation
Mary Alice Blythe
Wildlife Conservation

Amanda Bailey
Wildlife Conservation

Isabel Dowty
Wildlife Conservation