Dr. Tufts is a vector-borne disease ecologist interested in evolutionary genetics, pathogen transmission pathways, ecological drivers of pathogen emergence, and host-vector-parasite interactions and co-infections. Her goal is to enhance our understanding of these complex interactions by combining theory from disease ecology and genetics research with empirical approaches. She utilizes field collected and laboratory derived samples, mathematical and statistical models to connect these findings to patterns found in nature, and analyzes these samples using molecular tools. Her previous projects have focused on understanding how tick-borne pathogens (Borrelia burgdorferi and Babesia microti) may facilitate and enhance infection in their natural reservoir host (Peromyscus leucopus) using field-derived data from a multi-year, longitudinal, mark-recapture study and a multi-state Markov model to assess transition likelihoods between different infection states. Dr. Tufts was the first investigator in the US to discover that vertical transmission (a non-vector mediated pathogen pathway) may be contributing to the high prevalence and emergence of B. microti in natural rodent populations. Currently, she is investigating host specialization of different B. burgdorferi strains, immunological maternal-mediated protection against B. microti infection, macro-micro parasite interactions, and behavioral and genetic analyses of invasive tick species: the Asian longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis) and the red sheep tick (Haemaphysalis punctata). Infographic: https://hdl.handle.net/1813/104193
Dr. Tufts enjoys collaborating with fellow scientists both nationally and internationally to develop integrative and synergist research projects. She is interested in recruiting motivated graduate students who are interested in tick-borne diseases, disease ecology, and host-vector-pathogen interactions.
2005 | University of California, Davis | BS, Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology
2008 | University of Texas, Tyler | MS, Biological Sciences
2013 | University of Nebraska-Lincoln | PhD, Biological Sciences-Integrative Evolutionary Biology
2020 | Columbia University in the City of New York | Postdoctoral Researcher, Vector-Borne Diseases
Courses previously taught
Introduction to Environmental Biology (Columbia University)
Ecology and Evolution (University of Nebraska-Lincoln)
Fundamentals in Biology (University of Nebraska-Lincoln)
Tufts DM, Adams B, Diuk-Wasser MA. Ecological interactions driving coinfection dynamics of two tick-borne pathogens,Borrelia burgdorferi and Babesia microti. (In Review).
Lin YP*,Tufts DM*, Dupuis AP, Combs M, Marcinkiewicz AL, Hirsbrunner AD, Diaz AJ, Stout JL, Blom AM, Strle K, Davis AD, Kramer LD, Diuk-Wasser MA. (2022). Cellular and immunological mechanisms influence host-adapted phenotypes in a vector-borne microparasite. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 289: 20212087. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2021.2087
*These authors contributed equally
Tufts DM, Diuk-Wasser MA. (2021). First hemispheric report of invasive tick speciesHaemaphysalis punctata, first state report of Haemaphysalis longicornis, and range expansion of native tick species in Rhode Island, USA. Parasites and Vectors 14:394. https://rdcu.be/ctOPE
Ford L,Tufts DM. (2021). Lyme neuroborreliosis: Mechanisms ofB. burgdorferi infection of the nervous system. Brain Science 11: 789. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11060789
Tufts DM, McClure M, Diuk-Wasser, MA. (2021). Ixodes scapularis (Acari: Ixodidae) nymphal survival and host-finding success in the Eastern United States. Journal of Medical Entomology, 58(2): 929-938. https://doi.org/10.1093/jme/tjaa246.
Tufts DM, Diuk-Wasser MA. (2021). Vertical transmission: A vector-independent transmission pathway ofBabesia microti in the natural reservoir hostPeromyscus leucopus. Journal of Infectious Diseases, 223(10): 1787-1795. https://doi.org/10.1093/infdis/jiaa595.
Tufts DM, Goodman LB, Benedict MC, Davis, AD, VanAcker, MC, Diuk-Wasser MA. (2021). Association of the invasiveHaemaphysalis longicornis tick with vertebrate hosts, other native tick vectors, and tick-borne pathogens in New York City. International Journal of Parasitology 51: 149-157.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpara.2020.08.008
Tufts DM, Sameroff S, Tagliafierro T, Jain K, Oleynik A, VanAcker MC, Diuk-Wasser MA Lipkin WI, Tokarz R. (2020). A metagenomic examination of the pathobiome of the invasive tick species,Haemaphysalis longicornis,collected from a New York City borough, USA. Tick and Tick-Borne Diseases 11(6): 101516. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ttbdis.2020.101516
Ronai IJ*,Tufts DM*, Diuk-Wasser MA. (2020). Aversion of the invasive Asian longhorned tick to the white-footed mouse, the dominant reservoir of tick-borne pathogens in the USA. Medical and Veterinary Entomology, 34: 369-373.  https://doi.org/10.1111/mve.12441
Tufts DM,Hart TM, Chen G, Kolokotronis SO, Diuk-Wasser MA, Lin YP. (2019). Outer surface protein polymorphisms linked to host-spirochete association in Lyme borreliae. Molecular Microbiology 111(4): 868-882. https://doi.org/10.1111/mmi.14209
Tufts DM,VanAcker M, Fernandez MP, DeNicola A, Egizi, A, Diuk-Wasser MA. (2019). Distribution, host-seeking phenology, and host and habitat associations of Haemaphysalis longicornis ticks, Staten Island, New York, USA. Emerging Infectious Diseases 25(4): 792-796. https://doi.org/10.3201/eid2504.181541