Jake & Sophia Graduate

Sophia Parks and Jacob Schurkman were hooded in a graduation hooding ceremony over the weekend, completing their doctoral studies. Sophia is the 3rd graduate student to graduate from the Dillman lab and Jake is the 4th. Sophia started a postdoctoral position at Stanford in December and Jake begins a fulltime position at Maine Molecular Quality Controls later this year. Congratulations on their hard work and success!!

Chancellor’s Award for Excellence

Parasitologist Adler Dillman and cell biologist Manuela Martins-Green are this year’s recipients of UC Riverside’s Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement. The award is presented every spring to faculty members with a distinguished record of fostering undergraduate research or creative activity.

Survey of Nematodes that Infect Slugs & Snails in California

We recently surveyed 28 counties in California for nematodes that infect slugs and snails. This was a collaborative effort with Rory Mc Donnell’s lab at Oregon State University. The work was lead by Jake Schurkman and Irma Tandingan De Ley in the Dillman lab. This survey will help us understand the distribution of these nematodes and California and will be used to determine whether these nematodes could be sold and distributed for use in agriculture in the US.

New nematode parasite of tarantulas


A few years ago a tarantula breeder asked for our help in diagnosing an infection occurring in her tarantulas. This week the results of our study describing Tarantobelus jeffdanielsi, a newly described nematode parasite of tarantulas was published. Congratulations to Jake Schurkman, Kyle Anesko,  Irma Tandingan De Ley, and Joaquin Abolafia, for their great work on this nematode!

Study on Parasitic Nematode FAR Proteins published

Sophia’s study on FAR proteins modulating host immunity was published in PLoS Pathogens. This was a collaborative effort with the University of Victoria, UC San Diego, and Naoki Yamanaka’s lab here at UCR. This represents the first paper that we have published on a specific nematode protein effector. It’s also the first published collaboration with Naoki Yamanaka, Omar Akbari, and Marty Boulanger. Hopefully more to come!

Sophia Parks Honored as Stanford Propel Scholar

Graduate student Sophia Parks has accepted a position as a postdoctoral scholar in Dr. Manuel Amieva’s lab at Stanford University. In addition, she was selected to be one of the inaugural Propel Scholars, a newly formed Postdoctoral Scholar program at Stanford University’s School of Medicine (https://propel.stanford.edu/scholars/). Sophia begins her postdoctoral appointment in January. 

Jumping, Effectors, and Gastropods

S. carpocapsae jumping. From Dillman et al., 2021.

Like many labs, we were effectively shutdown for 3 full months in 2020 and have gradually been resuming full research activity as restrictions have decreased. So far this year, we published our first study of nematode effectors, where Sophia Parks and colleagues have illustrated the immunosuppressive potential of nematode FAR proteins. Jake Schurkman published an excellent review of EPN-Gastropod interactions. And Adler Dillman managed to publish data obtained in his graduate studies showing that EPNs jump with greater velocity and acceleration than previously reported. The high-speed videos of nematode jumping have finally been published.

We look forward to the characterization of many more nematode effectors, with studies of sPLA2 and ShKT-domain-containing proteins in the pipeline.

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