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16081359196_7eafa520e9_oI’m an Associate Professor in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington. My research program explores the ecology of infectious disease in a changing world. I address several questions with practical applications to conservation and marine production, as well as essential value for ecological theory. First, does loss of biodiversity generally increase or decrease disease transmission? In other words, do human impacts on biodiversity increase the prevalence of pathogens by eroding natural “checks and balances” on transmission? Or do human impacts decrease prevalence because they remove the free-living biodiversity on which pathogens depend? Second, if – as recent data suggest – biodiversity loss has variable effects on transmission across pathogen species, what factors predict disease outcomes? Might transmission strategy of the pathogen, its dispersal capability, or the spatial scale of observation influence whether transmission increases, decreases, or remains unchanged in response to an environmental impact? Answers to these questions are urgently needed as global change accumulates and as the threat of marine disease grows.

As a former professional editor (at Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment), I value crisp, precise, and engaging science communication. You can learn more about my approach to writing and speaking here, where you can also check out some of my recent seminars.

Interested in our lab’s work? Learn more here:

  • E-mail: chelwood @
  • Twitter: @DrChelseaLWood
  • Mailing address:
    • University of Washington
    • School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
    • Box 355020
    • Seattle, Washington 98195-5020
  • Phone: 206-685-2163
  • Office: Fishery Sciences Building 318B
  • Lab: Fishery Sciences Building 248


During 2014-2016, I was a Fellow in the Michigan Society of Fellows and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan.

I was a Postdoctoral Researcher (2013-2014) in Pieter Johnson’s lab at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where Piet and I began several long-term collaborations, including an ecosystem-scale manipulation designed to test the effects of biodiversity on parasite transmission. My collaboration with Piet continues, so stay tuned for new papers.

I earned my Ph.D. (2008-2013) in Stanford University’s Department of Biology. My dissertation work was supervised by Fiorenza Micheli at Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station.

From 2006 to 2008, I worked as an Assistant Editor at Frontiers in Ecology and the Environmenta scientific journal of the Ecological Society of America.

I received my bachelor’s degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Dartmouth College in 2006, graduating summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and with High Honors in my major.

During my undergraduate career (2002-2006), I worked as a research assistant in the laboratories of Jeb Byers (then at University of New Hampshire, now at University of Georgia), Kathy Cottingham (Dartmouth), and Matt Ayres (Dartmouth), and conducted my undergraduate honors thesis as an REU at Shoals Marine Lab.