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Department of Infectious Diseases

Courtney Murdock

Courtney Murdock

Assistant Professor
Odum School of Ecology
Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Educational Background

  • BS (2001) Biology, University of Michigan
  • PhD (2009) Natural Resources & the Environment, University of Michigan

About Courtney Murdock

Pennsylvania State University (2009-2014): Post-doctoral training, Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics & Department of Entomology

Teaching Experience

  • IDIS 8900: Global Change and Vector-borne Diseases
  • ECOL 4150/6150: Population Biology of Infectious Diseases
  • ECOL 3500: Ecology

Research Interests

One of the main drivers of vector-borne disease transmission in wildlife and human populations is the ecology of the insect vector.  Insect vectors, parasites, and their vertebrate hosts associate in a world that is rapidly changing.  Changes in habitat, water quantity and quality, pesticide use, environmental temperature etc. can all alter the ecological relationships insect vectors have with their hosts and parasites, resulting in shifts in the distribution and abundances of insect vectors, in contact rates between vectors and their hosts, and ultimately disease transmission.  Understanding these interactions will be crucial for better management of vector-borne diseases in the face of global change.  A consistent theme of my research, past and present, has been the application of ecological and evolutionary theory to better understand how parasites interact with their hosts, how parasites affect measures of host fitness, and to identify key environmental drivers of vector-borne disease transmission.  To answer questions within this theme, I have adopted a variety of research frameworks, which have included research conducted in the field, mathematical modeling, and laboratory research.


  • John M. Bowen Award for Excellence in Animal/Biomedical Research
  • Finalist in the Dengue Forecasting Challenge (White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Predict the Next Pandemic Initiative)
  • NIH Interdisciplinary Perspectives in Infectious Diseases Training Grant trainee

Selected Publications

Willard, K.A., Demakovsky, L., Tesla, B., Goodfellow, F.T., Stice, S.L. Murdock, C.C. , and M.A. Brindley (2017) Zika virus exhibits lineage-specific phenotypes in cell culture, in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, and in an embryo model. Viruses.

Johnson, L.R., Gramacy, R.B., Cohen, J., Mordecai, E., Murdock, C.C. , Rohr, J., Ryan, S.J., Stewart, A.M. and D. Weikel. Phenomenological forecasting of disease incidence using heteroskedastic Gaussian processes: a dengue case study. Annals of Applied Statistics (in press).

Murdock, C.C. , Evans, M.V., McClanahan, T., Miazgowicz, K. and B. Tesla (2017) Fine-scale variation in microclimate across an urban landscape shapes variation in mosquito population dynamics and the potential of Aedes albopictus to transmit arboviral disease. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Mordecai, E.A., Cohen, J.M., Evans, M.E., Gudapati, P., Johnson, L.R., Lippi, C.A., Miazgowicz, K., Murdock, C.C. , Rohr, J.R., Ryan, S.J., Savage, V., Shocket, M.S., Ibarra, A.S., Thomas, M.B., and D.P. Weikel (2017) Detecting the impact of temperature on transmission of Zika, dengue, and chikungunya using mechanistic models. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Murdock, C.C. , Luckhart, S., and L.J. Cator (2017) Immunity, host physiology, and behaviour in infected vectors. Current Opinion in Insect Science. doi: 10.1016/j.cois.2017.03.001

Evans, M.V., Dallas, T.A., Han, B.A., Murdock, C.C. , and J.M. Drake (2017). Data-driven identification of potential Zika virus vectors. eLife.

Shapiro, L.L., Murdock, C.C. , Jacobs, G.R., Thomas, R.J., and M.B. Thomas (2016) Larval food quantity affects the capacity of adult mosquitoes to transmit human malaria. Proceedings of the Royal Society, London Series B.

Murdock, C.C. , Sternberg, E.D., and M.B. Thomas (2016). Malaria transmission potential could be reduced with current and future climate change. Scientific Reports.

Cator, L.J., Pietri, J.E., Murdock, C.C. , Ohm, J.R., Lewis, E., Read, A.F., Luckhart, S., and M.B. Thomas (2015). Immune response and insulin signaling alter mosquito feeding behavior to enhance malaria transmission potential. Scientific Reports. 5: 11947 doi: 10.1038/srep11947.

Murdock, C.C. , Adler, P.H., Frank, J., and S.P. Perkins (2015). Molecular analyses on host-seeking black flies (Diptera: Simuliidae) reveal a diverse assemblage of Leucocytozoon (Apicomplexa: Haemosporida) parasites in an alpine ecosystem. Parasites & Vectors, 8: 343 doi: 10.1186/s1307-015-0952-9.

Hughes, G.L., Dodson, B.L., Johnson, R.M., Murdock, C.C. , Tsuijimoto, H. et al. (2014). Native microbiome impedes vertical transmission of Wolbachia in Anopheles mosquitoes. PNAS, 111: 12498-12503. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1408888111.

Murdock, C.C. , Blanford, S., Hughes, G., Rasgon, J., and M.B. Thomas (2014). Temperature alters Plasmodium blocking by Wolbachia. Scientific Reports, 4: 3932. doi: 10.1038/srep03932.

Murdock, C. , Foufopoulos, J. and C. Simon (2013). A transmission model for the ecology of an avian blood parasite in a temperate system. PLoS One, 8: e76126. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0076126.

Murdock, C. , Moller-Jacobs, L., and M.B. Thomas (2013). Complex environmental drivers of immunity and resistance in a malaria mosquito. Proceedings of the Royal Society, London Series B, 280:20132030. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2013.2030.

Cator, L.J., George, J., Blanford, S., Murdock, C.C. , Baker, T.C., Read, A.F., and M.B. Thomas (2013). Manipulation without the parasite: altered feeding behavior of malaria mosquitoes is not dependent on parasite infection. Proceedings of the Royal Society, London Series B., 280: 20130711. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2013.0711.

Paaijmans, K.P., Heinig, R.L., Seliga, R.A., Blanford, J.I., Blanford, S., Murdock, C.C. , and M.B. Thomas (2013). Temperature variation makes ectotherms more sensitive to climate change. Global Change Biology, 19: 2373-2380. doi: 10.1111/gcb.12240.

Murdock, C. Paaijmans, K., Read, A. F., Cox-Foster, D., and M. B. Thomas (2012). Rethinking vector immunology: the role of environmental temperature in shaping resistance. Nature Microbiology Reviews 10 (12): 869-876. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2900.

Murdock, C. , Paaijmans, K., Bell, A., King, J., Hillyer, J., Read, A. and M. Thomas (2012). Complex effects of temperature on mosquito immune function. Proceedings of the Royal Society, London Series B. 279 (1741): 3357-3366. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2012.0638.

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