Whipps Lab People


Fish and Wildlife Disease Lab

Whipps Lab June 2012 - After Meg's defense (everyone is smiling!)

William Helenbrook

PhD Candidate



I began studying primate behavioral ecology in 2002 at La Suerte Biological Field Station in Costa Rica.  I then worked in Nigeria at Pandrillus, an NGO focused on conserving the endangered drill monkey, Mandrillus leucophaeus, and providing sanctuary for orphaned chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes.  I have since completed my Masters degree in Biology at SUNY College at Buffalo and presently I’m working on my doctoral dissertation titled “Emerging zoonoses: Effects of anthropogenic disturbance on parasitic disease, chronic stress, and pathogen transmission between human and nonhuman primate populations”, at SUNY-ESF in the Environmental and Forest Biology program. 

Katrina Alger

MSc Student



Lymphoproliferative Disease Virus (LPDV) in Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) in New York State, U.S.


Carolyn Chang

PhD Student



Control of Infectious Diseases in Zebrafish (Danio rerio)


Kelly Huffman

MSc Student (co-advise with Dr. John Farrell)



Northern Pike: Genetic and Experimental Study of Sex Ratio Imbalance in Upper St. Lawrence River


Emily Gavard

MSc Student (co-advise with Dr. Sadie Ryan)



Exploring the Potential for Parasite Mediate Competition:New England and Eastern Cottontails, Invasive Vegetation, and Parasites.


Undergrad Research Students

Samantha Page - Distribution of Dicrocoelium dendriticum in white tailed deer in NY. Gastrointestinal parasites of coyotes in NY. Molecular diagnostics for invasive insects.

Erica Colicino, Elizabeth J DiPaola, Brooke Clemons - Genotyping and disinfection of Mycobacterium species


Lab Members Past

Joelle Chille (MPS 2014)

MPS Student (Co-advise with Dr. Melissa Fierke)


Efficacy and Persistence of Two Microbial Control Agents of Xylosandrus germanus (ambrosia beetle)




Emily Ogburn (MSc 2014)

Co-advised with Dr. Karin Limburg

Currently Research Associate, Department of Entomology, North Carolina State University

I am a native of Kentucky and earned a B.S. in Ecological Science and a B.A. in English from University of Kentucky in 2009. I spent several field seasons working with flying squirrels, chipmunks, spotted owls, marbled murrelets before I began my graduate work at SUNY-ESF. I have ventured into the realm of aquatic ecology. I am investigating the ever-exciting fish parasite communities in the Hudson River Estuary’s littoral habitats.  Fish parasites are largely understudied in the Hudson River. The work will give an indication of fish health in three different habitat types and it will give some insight into the integrity or “health” of the habitats themselves.

Eric Bauer (MSc, 2013)

Currently: Auburn University PhD Program


I have been obsessed with fish all my life, ever since my dad used to take me fishing. I joined the United States Coast Guard directly out of high school to get the GI Bill to help pay for college. I received my BA in Aquatics and Fisheries Science at SUNY ESF and it was at ESF that I got involved in fish parasitology. During my senior year I conducted a study on the effects of introduced fish on native parasite communities in the Adirondacks. I also worked on the Onondaga Lake Biomonitoring project catching and recording fish, as well as acoustically tagging walleye. This past summer I worked at the Thousand Island Biological Station studying the fish of the St. Lawrence River. I am currently studying the effect of round gobies in the St. Lawrence River on smallmouth bass parasite communities and the effects on the bass themselves. I am also currently attempting to determine the population of the lake chubsucker, which is threatened in NY, that I discovered as an undergraduate on a field trip.  It amazes me that I get to do what I love every day and will get paid to do it.


Meg washing penguin #4

Megan Kirschgessner (PhD 2012)

Currently: Wildlife Veterinarian, Virginia Inland Fish and Game


I am an Upstate New Yorker who earned a B.Sc. from SUNY-ESF in 2001 in Environmental and Forest Biology. After earning a DVM from the the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine, I practiced wildlife veterinary medicine in Louisiana and the Notheast. In 2009 I returned to ESF to pursue a Ph.D. in Wildlife Disease Management. I have worked on bald eagles, cormorants, alligators, kangaroos, opossums, sulcatta tortoises, and macaques, just to name a few of my patients. If I had to pick one species to work with, it would definitely be African penguins!  My research focuses on the prevalence, distribution, spatial epidemiology, and interspecies transmission of bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDv), an economically important bovine pathogen, and Coxiella burnetii, a zoonotic bacterium, in white-tailed deer of New York and Pennsylvania. 


Tiffany Brookins-Little - PCR diagnostics

Amanda Diebel - Gastrointestinal parasites of howler monkeys.

Andy DiMezza - Genotyping piscine Mycobacterium spp.

Alex Farewell-Prisaznuk - Genetic identification and systematics of myxozoan parasites of fish. (Grad Spring 2009)

Jenelle Hanson - Starting undergrad. Ichthyophonus parasite culture


Hadi Jabbar (Research Support Specialist) - Mycobacteriosis in zebrafish

Meng Lin - Molecular biology and diagnostic methods for fish pathogens (Meng won second place for best poster at ESF's Spotlight on Student Research 2010 - Congrats Meng!). Currently in the Oral Biology Masters program at NYU.

Jessica Mays - Parasitological survey of parasites in howler monkeys.

Jenna Sanford - PCR detection of gastrointestinal parasites in howler monkeys.

Andrew Underwood - Comparative methods of DNA extraction in deer tissues.

Jacqueline Zalizniak (Honors Student) - Howler monkey DNA analysis.