Megan Greischar


Location: Room 2055, Earth Sciences Centre



University of Toronto (2014-present)
Postdoctoral Fellow
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

PhD, Entomology, The Pennsylvania State University (2009-2014) [Advisors: Ottar Bjørnstad, Andrew Read]
BS, Biology, BA Mathematics, Indiana University (2002-2007)

Research Interests

I am broadly interested in the strategies parasites use to make a living within a host. I focus on malaria parasites because they show some very curious behavior, including synchronized cycles of blood stage infection (where parasites invade red blood cells, develop, and burst out in unison) and reproductive restraint, meaning that parasites seem to invest preferentially in proliferating within the host (growth) rather than transmitting to new hosts (reproduction). I use within-host models to map the consequences of these curious parasite traits, drawing on theory developed to understand synchronized reproduction and reproductive restraint in free-living organisms.

Testing these predictions requires good methods for characterizing parasite strategies, which can be difficult or impossible to measure directly. I also use models to test out inference methods, meaning that I simulate data–so that I know the right answer–and then determine what methods are needed to give a clear picture of parasite biology.

Selected Publications

Greischar, M.A., N. Mideo, A. F. Read, and O. N. Bjørnstad. (2016). Predicting optimal transmission investment in malaria parasites. Evolution, 70: 1542-58.

Greischar, M.A., N. Mideo, A. F. Read, and O. N. Bjørnstad. (2016). Quantifying transmission investment in malaria parasites. PLoS Computational Biology, 12: e1004718.

Greischar, M.A., S.E. Reece, and N. Mideo. (2016). The role of models in translating within-host dynamics to parasite evolution. Parasitology, 143: 905-14.

Greischar, M.A., A.F. Read & O.N. Bjørnstad. (2014). Synchrony in malaria infections: How intensifying within-host competition can be adaptive. American Naturalist. 183(2): E36-E48.

Greischar, M.A. and C.M. Lively. (2011). Parasites can simplify host-population dynamics and reduce extinction risk. Evolutionary Ecology Research, 13: 557-569.

Greischar, M.A. and B. Koskella. (2007). A synthesis of experimental work on parasite local adaptation. Ecology Letters, 10, 418–434.


Interests: Reading (esp. sci-fi & mysteries), traveling, urban hiking, knitting, cooking/baking with a focus on tofu and chocolate (typically not together).