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We study the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of infectious disease in natural populations. Research in the lab is focused on understanding the impact of infectious disease on host abundance and distribution in natural populations, and how these ecological effects intersect with the evolution of important host and pathogen traits such as transmission and resistance. We use plants and their fungal pathogens as powerful model systems for investigating these questions. We have field sites in Maryland and North-Western Italy.



Congratulations to Sam Slowinski who has accepted a job as an assistant professor at the University of New England, in Biddeford, Maine!

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Sam Hulse's new paper on the role of coevolution in the evolution of general and specific disease resistance is published in Evolution Letters


Congratulations to Yanelyn Perez for passing her qualifying exam!!!!

Bruns lab presents 2 posters and two talks at EEID 2023!

Congratulations to all our graduates: Eirena, Hailey, Rayshaun, and Emma!

Eirena Li, Hailey Papagjika, Dalia Chen and Emma Yockman (above) present their research at undergraduate research day 2023!

Congratulations to Eirena Li and Rayshaun Pettit for successfully defending their honors theses!  

We are excited to welcome new graduate students Michelle Launi and Yang Yang to the lab this fall. 

Congratulations to Rayshaun Pettit and Emma Yockman for being awarded NSF GRFP grants!!!

Sam Hulse just published a new paper in Journal of Evolutionary Biology.  “Specific resistance prevents the evolution of general resistance and facilitates disease emergence.”

Congrats to Yan Perez for winning summer funding from the Dr Devra Kleiman Memorial Graduate Endowment


Dalia Chen wins a UMD honors grant to fund her travel to a meeting this summer!


Congrats to Hailey Papagjika on her new internship with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation

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Dalia Chen wins a SEEDS grant fellowship to attend ESA, where she'll be giving a talk on her work on thermal tolerance in anther smut

Brand new paper out in Evolution letters by Sam Hulse on the role of coevolution in the maintenance of gneeral resistance. 


Sam Hulse's first paper in the lab is published in Journal of Evolutionary Biology on the joint evolution of general and specific resistance..   

New paper out in Phil Trans B with the Metcalf lab at Princeton on Climate on climate change in wild plant pathogen interactions.

New paper out in Proc R Soc B with Ben Ashby and Lydia Buckingham on the evolution of age-specific resistance.

Two new papers out in Ecology on the Dianthus work in Italy!:

  • This one led by Janis and Caroline Amoroso shows the effect on density on vector transmission (spoiler alert: encounter dilution effect). 

  • The other, led by Lawerence Uricchio shows spatial dynamics of our long-term transects in natural populations and provides further evidence that transmission is multi-modal.

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New paper our in Journal of Ecology on genetic correlations in resistance at different ages. Very proud of two former undergrads, Indigo Ballister and Liz Troy who contributed to this work. 

-- Selected cover story!  see our Blog on the paper here!

Congratulations to Dalia Chen for successfully defending her honors thesis "The Effect of Increasing Temperatures on the Survival and Transmission of a Naturally Occurring Plant Pathogen" with high honors.  She also won the Winston Family Honors award for Outstanding Thesis.  

Where we work

Fieldwork in Beltsville, Maryland

We have been working at the University of Maryland Agriculture Experiment Station (MAES) in Beltsville the past three years, studying phenology, fitness, and susceptibility of Silene latifolia at different ages to Anther-smut. 

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Clockwise from the right: Giant, flowering Silene  in our common garden experiment.  Cicadas invade! Seedling transmission experiment, Field-master Ally Kido, Some questionable field help, Dalia Chen documenting flower counts, Alex Peska, Dalia Chen, and Kaela Coil having a break on a rare cool day.

Western Alps, Italy


The Western Italian Alps are home to several anther-smut species (and their hosts). 

We made it out to Italy for a brief period in July to check in on a long-term implant experiment with Dianthus pavonius and make collections for our joint project with Michael Hood's lab on Silene vulgaris. 


Left: Census of Dianthus pavonius implant experiment near Rifugio Garelli, Parco Naturale del Marguareis. Top right: Diseased Silene latifolia in field near Chiusa di Pesio. Bottom right: Diseased S. vulgaris in same field. 

Other places we've been working

You can also find us in the fourth floor of the Biology-Psychology Building or the Research Plant Greenhouses.


Clockwise from top left: Eirena and Rayshaun mug for CMNS photo shoot with inoculated Silene latifolia plants in the greenhouse (check out their pictures on the Biology dept website!). Emma and Eirnea prepare inoculum. Planting party! (with Andrea, Yan, Hailey, and Rayshaun). Yan and Rayshaun get ready to set up conjugation trials.


University of Maryland

Dept. of Biology

4223 Biology-Psychology Bldg.

College Park, MD 20742

Office 301-405-7684

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