Tara completed her B.S, degree in Evolution, Ecology and Biodiversity from UC Davis where she worked simultaneously as a necropsy diener at the UCD Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. She then got her MS degree from San Francisco State University in Ecology and Systematics. There, Tara sequenced and compiled maximum likelihood and Bayesian trees on feather mites (genus Proctophyllodes) in order to determine if cospeciation had occurred between feather mites and their Passerine hosts. Her thesis was entitled: A molecular study of selected groups of the feather mite genus Proctophyllodes (Acari: Astigmata)
After finishing her Masters degree Tara joined on a project in Dr. Foley's lab identifying endemic bacterial species living on frog skin in an attempt to determine if any of these bacterial species were capable of preventing infection by Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. This work was published in Comparative Immunology, Microbiology & Infectious Diseases in 2013, two years after she was officially admitted as a doctoral student. Since starting graduate school Tara has collaborated on a project to record blood-borne diseases and ectoparasites in American pika, worked on a project to characterize reservoir species for a wide variety of infectious diseases, participated as a graduate student mentor for under-represented freshmen students interested in pursuing a career in STEM or veterinary medicine, and served as a student representative for the Designated Emphasis in Vector Borne Disease Executive Committee.
Tara is passionate about disease ecology, pathology and medicine. Her doctoral thesis is on the ecology and epidemiology of Francisella tularensis in the California central valley. Her research has focused on identifying the risk factors and principal players in a spillover event that occurred in 2010 at the California National Primate Research Center in Davis, CA. Tara is expected to graduate in June of 2016 with a degree in Integrative Pathobiology with a designated emphasis in Vector Borne Disease Biology.