Matt Robak | PhD student

RobakMatt Robak

Clark University is where I obtained my Bachelor’s degree, majoring in Environmental and Conservation Biology. During my time there, I met professors Susan Foster and John Baker, who introduced me to the world of research using threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) as a study system. Through their lab, I was able to analyze the evolution of morphological characteristics of stickleback, particularly the evolution of effective body depth and the evolution of spine size in response to predation. I was also able to examine the effects of parasitism on stickleback egg clutch quantity and quality among populations. Although most of my research experience as an undergraduate involved sticklebacks, I have always had an interest in herpetology.

My PhD work in the Richards-Zawacki lab focuses on amphibians’ interactions with Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), the chytrid fungus that causes the amphibian disease chytridiomycosis. My research explores the causes of inter and intra-specific variation in susceptibility to chytridiomycosis, focusing on how climate affects host immune defenses against Bd.