Brianna Stenger

Position: Research Assistant, NDSU Graduate School Dissertation Fellow
Lab: Van Es 132, 136
Office: Van Es 189
Program: Environmental and Conservation Sciences, PhD
Advisor: Dr. McEvoy & Dr. Clark

Graduate Student Profile

BS in Zoology with an emphasis in fisheries, wildlife, ecology, and behavior from North Dakota State University

Research Focus:
The lab focuses on many aspects of Cryptosporidium research, from the cellular level to ecology. I am interested in the ecology, taxonomy, wildlife and wildlife diseases, conservation biology, parasitology, evolution. My PhD work has focused on the ecology of Cryptosporidium parasites in wild small mammal populations. Cryptosporidium is a genus of ubiquitous parasites that can cause the disease cryptosporidiosis. There are at least 25 species and more than 40 different genotypes of Cryptosporidium. A lot of these parasites are considered to be host-adapted, which means we tend to find specific types of Cryptosporidium in a particular host species or group of hosts. This knowledge has been used to track sources of water contamination and characterize human health risk. Most of the research has focused on Cryptosporidium affecting humans and livestock, because of public and animal health as well as the economic importance. However, relatively little is known about Cryptosporidium in wildlife host species besides “X” Cryptosporidium was detected in “this” host species, and if the Cryptosporidium species/genotype is a human pathogen.

Most of my research has focused on some of the lesser studied Cryptosporidium parasites which are found in wildlife host species. I believe by gaining a better understanding of the ecology of Cryptosporidium parasites in wild host populations, we can learn a lot about Cryptosporidium evolution, biology, and behavior. My background in ecology and zoology gives me a different perspective to studying host-parasite interactions, and I try to look at both the host and parasite perspectives. Topics I am interested in include: Using the actin gene in conjunction with 18S rRNA gene for determining Cryptosporidium genotypes. Identifying Cryptosporidium species and genotypes in wild small mammals and patterns or relationships of parasite taxa, prevalence, host-adaptation, location specificity, host density, and seasons. Studying the highly divergent 18S rRNA copies of Cryptosporidium chipmunk genotype II in eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus) hosts.

Coming to the end of my PhD research, I have even more questions than answers which I would like to follow-up on. I would like to continue to work on the ecology of Cryptosporidium parasites in wildlife, but also branch out to other parasites and wildlife diseases. One area I am particularly interested in is Cryptosporidium parasites (or other parasites) in hibernating animals. How do Cryptosporidium parasites survive when the host animal is in hibernation and undergoes significant physiological changes? On another note, I am also interested in animal predation on crops (vineyards, orchards, or row crops).

Departmental Involvement:
Environmental & Conservation Sciences Ambassador, ECS Graduate Student Association, VMS Graduate Student Association, Wildlife Society, Society for Conservation Biology, Wildlife Disease Association, American Society for Parasitology

Selected Publications/Notable Achievements:

Book Chapter
Martin Kváč, John McEvoy, Brianna Stenger, Mark Clark. 2014. Chapter 5: Cryptosporidiosis in other vertebrates. Pg. 237-323. Cryptosporidium: parasite and disease. Editors: Simone M Cacciò and Giovanni Widmer. Publisher: Springer.

Peer Reviewed Publications

  1. Kváč M, McEvoy J, Loudová M, Stenger B, Sak B, Květoňová D, Ditrich O, Rašková V, Moriarty E, Rost M, Macholán M, Piálek J. 2013. Coevolution of Cryptosporidium tyzzeri and the house mouse (Mus musculus). International Journal for Parasitology 43: 805-817.
  2. Rasková V, Kvetonová D, McEvoy J, Edwinson A, Stenger B,Kvác M. Human cryptosporidiosis caused by Cryptosporidium tyzzeri and C. parvum isolates presumably transmitted from wild mice. 2013. Journal of Clinical Microbiology 51: 360-362.
  3. Kváč MKestřánová M, Pinková M, Květoňová D, Kalinová J, Wagnerová P, Kotková M, Vítovec J, Ditrich O, McEvoy J, Stenger B, Sak B. 2013. Cryptosporidium scrofarum n. sp. (Apicomplexa: Cryptosporidiidae) in domestic pigs (Sus scrofa). Veterinary Parasitology 191: 218-227.
  4. Feltus, D.C; Giddings, C.W.; Schneck, B.L.; Monson, T; Warshauer, D; McEvoy, J.M.; 2006. Evidence supporting zoonotic transmission of Cryptosporidium in Wisconsin. Journal of Clinical Microbiology 44: 4303-4308.

Technical Publications
Stenger, B.L.S., Clark, M.E., McEvoy, J.M. Technical Report: Source Tracking of Cryptosporidium in the Red River Valley. North Dakota Water Resources Research Institute, Technical Report No: ND12-07, June, 2012.

Contact Information: