Gaëlle Blanvillain

Biological Sciences

Gaëlle has a BS degree in Biology from the University of La Rochelle, France, a MS degree in Natural Resource Management from the University of Angers, France, and a MS in Marine Biology from the College of Charleston, SC.  She’s worked on herpetofauna for almost 20 years (turtles, snakes, lizards and frogs) in Costa Rica, Bermuda, the US and France.

Broadly speaking, Gaëlle is interested in the ecology of infectious diseases in wildlife, and host-pathogen coevolution. For her Ph.D., she is studying Snake Fungal Disease, an emergent disease affecting snakes in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Her project aims to shed light on how environmental factors and pathogen reservoirs impact disease transmission and infection severity.


Over the years, Gaëlle has accumulated extensive knowledge in conservation biology and reproductive physiology, and she has a particular interest in studies leading to improved management of endangered species.  She has worked with sea turtles for about 10 years, for example, investigating the physiological and reproductive biology of adult male loggerheads, and the migration and movement patterns of adults and juveniles using satellite telemetry and capture-mark-recapture techniques.  Gaëlle also has a strong interest in ecotoxicology.  For her Master’s thesis at the College of Charleston, under the guidance of Dr. David Owens and scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), she explored whether diamondback terrapins, a small estuarine turtle, could be used as a sentinel species for biomonitoring mercury pollution in estuaries.  More recently, from 2012 to 2016, She worked for the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in France, at the Theoretical and Experimental Ecology Station (SETE) located in Moulis (Southern France).  She worked with ecologists and evolutionary biologists on projects related to climate change, habitat fragmentation, animal behavior, and phenotypic plasticity applied to local species of snakes, lizards and frogs.