Julian Gottfried ’24

Major

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Project Title

Health and Conservation at the Human-Domestic Animal-Wildlife Interface in Madagascar

Presentation Link

View Julian's Presentation

Certificate(s): Applications of Computing

I studied the spread of an introduced parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, among endemic animals to Madagascar. Village encroachment on the jungle is changing the dynamics of disease by mediating interactions between native wildlife and domestic and invasive species. The disease, toxoplasmosis, has as yet unknown health implications for endemic Madagascan animals, but it presents a major human health risk. This project sought to more fully understand the spread and impact of toxoplasmosis. As a field and lab tech, I checked traps, maintained camera traps, collected biological samples, tracked animals, and collected parasite samples. I also extracted DNA from blood, tissue, and soil samples, and prepared samples for polymerase chain reaction analysis. Additionally, I assisted in the development of a mathematical model of toxoplasmosis transmission. I gained practical skills in field work and knowledge of how to navigate field conditions. I now have a better understanding of how to design research projects. The interdisciplinary nature of this project was by far the most rewarding aspect. I look forward to exploring the complicated world of disease ecology further and using the skills I’ve gained in future field projects.

* This internship is connected to the HMEI Biodiversity Grand Challenges project, “Biodiversity Conservation and Health at the Human-Domestic Animal-Wildlife Interface in Madagascar.”



Internship Year

2022

Project Category

Biodiversity and Conservation

Organization(s)

Metcalf Lab, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University - Antananarivo, Madagascar; Betampona Natural Reserve, Madagascar

Mentor(s)

C. Jessica Metcalf, Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Public Affairs; Fidisoa Rasambainarivo, Postdoctoral Research Associate, High Meadows Environmental Institute; Benjamin Rice, Associate Research Scholar, High Meadows Environmental Institute