Dr. Kaitlin Gallagher completed her PhD in June 2019 from the University of Connecticut in the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Her doctoral dissertation focused on a tapeworm of the pelagic thresher shark, called Litobothrium aenigmaticum. She collected sharks from fish markets in Taiwan, and then used histology, electron microscopy and comparative genomics to understand the evolution of the novel body form of the tapeworm. This worm has an unusual and complex attachment organ (scolex) that allows it to attach to the gut of the shark, induce an inflammation response, and release secretory products. Kaitlin is broadly interested in the evolution, and unusual adaptations of fish parasites.
From her PhD Kaitlin has published three research articles in Invertebrate Biology, the Journal of Shellfish Research, and the University of Kansas Natural History Museum special publication, and has two more manuscripts in preparation. She received the outstanding student paper award from the New England Association of Parasitologists in 2015, and the meritorious student paper award from the American Society of Parasitologists in 2016.
Kaitlin joined the BMSC in August 2019 under the supervision of Dr. Christopher Cameron (Université de Montréal) to study the sea lice of Pacific salmon and whales. She will examine the water flow and drag experienced by these ectoparasites in response to flow velocity, parasite size, shape, conformation, spatial distributions and clustering on the hosts. This study will provide a novel tool to easily and precisely quantify the stress (drag) that ectoparasites cause their hosts. This stress will be comparable between individuals, across species, and over time as parasite loads change in a warming ocean. More about Kaitlin here.