Foley Laboratory in Infectious Disease Ecology

Ben Plourde

Ben Plourde

Ben joined the Foley Lab in the fall of 2013 as a Ph.D. student in the graduate group of Integrative Pathobiology. He is interested in the effects of anthropogenic change on infectious disease transmission. Specifically, Ben is studying tick-borne pathogens in relation to forestry, fire, and development. He is fascinated by ecological cascades that highlight the complexity and magnificence of the natural world. 

Ben earned his B.S. in biological sciences and physics from the University of Connecticut. As an undergraduate, he spent three years in fucntional plant ecology research in tropical second-growth forests. He was fortunate to spend two field summers at La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica measuring tree traits. The study sites are part of a long-term multi-national tropical forest monitoring program, NeoSelvas. His major findings underscored the importance and nuances of wood density measurement for estimating biomass of tropical forests. 

After graduation, Ben moved to Philadelphia where he started as a middle school science teacher in the School District of Philadelphia. He concurrrently earned an M.Ed. in science education from Arcadia University. After three years of teaching, Ben returned to research with the ultimate goal of an academic career to pursue his passions for teaching and scientific inquiry.