Katherine Prager

Research Associate (Associate Researcher I)
UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
PhD, Ecology, University of California, Davis
DVM, University of California, Davis
BA, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University
4000 Terasaki Life Sciences Building
(310) 206-8203

Prager CV (pdf)

I study the ecology of infectious disease in wildlife host populations, using a multidisciplinary approach based on skills and knowledge derived from my joint training in veterinary medicine and ecology. My research focuses on using, environmental, field, laboratory, and clinical data to assess patterns of exposure and infection in natural populations; evaluate pathogen emergence and persistence; understand climatic influences on pathogen dynamics; describe physiological and immunological response to disease; characterize infection in individual animals; determine predictors of survival; identify zoonotic pathogens of concern in wildlife and spillover risk to humans; and assess the safety and efficacy of capture and anesthetic techniques in wildlife. Working in Jamie Lloyd-Smith’s lab I have had the opportunity to collaborate closely with other disease ecologists and mathematical modelers to connect my findings to the broader population ecology of host-pathogen interactions, offering essential insights into the biology of the system that are critical for accurate model design and parameterization. I also work closely with biologists, veterinarians, and policy makers from state, federal and non-profit organizations to disseminate our findings to the general public and inform animal and public health management decisions.

Over the last decade, my focus has been understanding Leptospira dynamics in California sea lions and their broader ecosystem. This broader ecosystem includes potential marine-terrestrial linkages with terrestrial populations such as the Channel Island foxes and spotted skunks, as well as urban mammals of Los Angeles County. In October 2020 I joined a Tufts University led consortium – an international team of biologists, veterinarians, physicians, public health experts, epidemiologists, microbiologists, and policy makers from a range of universities and non-profits – and am working with this team on a USAID funded project STOP Spillover (see the press release). This project aims to identify and mitigate risk factors of spillover of emerging zoonotic viruses from animals to humans.

Google scholar page

Citation Statistics: Citations 949; h-index 12; i10-index 14

F denotes first author. C denotes corresponding author. * denotes equal contribution.

1. E. R. Whitmer, B. Borremans, P.J. Duignan, S.P. Johnson, J.O. Lloyd-Smith, A. M. McClain, K.C. Prager, “Classification and regression tree (CART) analysis for predicting prognosis in wildlife rehabilitation: A case study of leptospirosis in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus)”, Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine. (IN PRESS).

2. R. Vega Thurber, L.D. Mydlarz, M. Brandt, D. Harvell, E. Weil, L. Raymundo, B.L. Willis, S. Langevin, A. M. Tracy, R. Littman, K. M. Kemp, P. Dawkins, K.C. Prager, M. Garren, J. Lamb, “Deciphering Coral Disease Dynamics: Integrating Host, Microbiome, and the Changing Environment. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, (2020). doi:10.3389/fevo.2020.575927

3. B. Borremans, A. Gamble, K. C. Prager, S. K. Helman, A. M. McClain, C. Cox, V. Savage, and J. O. Lloyd-Smith. “Quantifying antibody kinetics and RNA shedding during early-phase SARS-CoV-2 infection by time since symptom onset”. Elife. (2020). doi:10.7554/eLife.60122

4. S. Helman, R. Mummah, K. Gostic, M. Buhnerkempe, K.C. Prager, and J. Lloyd-Smith. Estimating prevalence and test accuracy in disease ecology: how Bayesian latent class analysis can boost or bias imperfect test results. Ecology and Evolution. (2020). doi:10.1002/ece3.6448

5. K.C. PragerF,C, M. G. Buhnerkempe, D. J. Greig, A. J. Orr, E. D. Jensen, F. Gomez, R. L. Galloway, Q. Wu, F. M. D. Gulland, and J. O. Lloyd-Smith. “Mapping the Host-Pathogen Space to Link Longitudinal and Cross-sectional Biomarker Data: Leptospira Infection in California Sea Lions (Zalophus californianus) as a Case Study”. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases. (2020). doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0008407

6. E. DeRango, K.C. Prager, D. Greig, A. Hooper, and D. Crocker, “Climate variability and life history impact stress responses thyroid hormones and immune markers in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) during El Niño conditions”, Conservation Physiology (2019) doi:10.1093/conphys/coz010

7. B.A. Neely*, K.C. Prager*, A.M. Bland, C. Fontaine, F.M. Gulland and M.G. Janech, "Proteomic Analysis of Urine from California Sea Lions (Zalophus californianus): A Resource for Urinary Biomarker Discovery", Journal of Proteome Research (2018). doi:10.1021/acs.jproteome.8b00416

8. D. Whitaker, S. Reichly, M. Griffin, K. Prager, C. Richey, K. Kenelty, B. Stevens, J.O. Lloyd-Smith, C. Kreuder Johnson, P. Duignan, S. Johnson, C. Rios, R. DeLong, B. Halaska, L. Rust, B. Byrne, C. Struve, S. Mapes, E. Soto, “Hypermucoviscous Klebsiella pneumoniae Isolates from Stranded and Wild-Caught Marine Mammals of the United States Pacific Coast: Prevalence, Phenotype and Genotype", Journal of Wildlife Diseases (2018). doi:10.7589/2017-07-178

9. M.G. Buhnerkempe, K.C. Prager, C.C. Strelioff, D.J. Greig, J.L. Laake, S.R. Melin, R.L. DeLong, F.M.D. Gulland and J.O. Lloyd-Smith, "Detecting signals of chronic shedding to explain pathogen persistence: Leptospira interrogans in California sea lions", Journal of Animal Ecology, (2017), pp. 460-472. doi:10.1111/1365-2656.12656

10. A.L. Graham, D.H. Nussey, J.O. Lloyd-Smith, D. Longbottom, M. Maley, J.M. Pemberton, J.G. Pilkington, K.C. Prager, L. Smith, K.A. Watt, K. Wilson, N.T. Mc and F. Brulisauer, "Exposure to viral and bacterial pathogens among Soay sheep (Ovis aries) of the St Kilda archipelago", Epidemiology & Infection, (2016), pp. 1-10. doi:10.1017/S0950268816000017

11. C.A. Burge, C.S. Friedman, R. Getchell, M. House, K.D. Lafferty, L.D. Mydlarz, K.C. Prager, K.P. Sutherland, T. Renault, I. Kiryu and R. Vega-Thurber, "Complementary approaches to diagnosing marine diseases: a union of the modern and the classic", Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, (2016). doi:10.1098/rstb.2015.0207

12. K.C. PragerF,C, D.P. Alt, M.G. Buhnerkempe, D.J. Greig, R.L. Galloway, Q. Wu, F.M.D. Gulland and J.O. Lloyd-Smith, "Antibiotic efficacy in eliminating leptospiruria in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) stranding with leptospirosis: 14 cases (2010-2011)", Aquatic Mammals, (2015) 41(2): 203-212. doi:10.1578/AM.41.2.2015.203

13. Q. Wu, K.C. Prager, T. Goldstein, D.P. Alt, R.L. Galloway, R.L. Zuerner, J.O. Lloyd-Smith and L. Schwacke, "Development of a real-time PCR for the detection of pathogenic Leptospira spp. in California sea lions", Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, (2014) 110(3): 165-172.doi:10.3354/dao02752

14. K.C. PragerF,C, J.A.K. Mazet, E.J. Dubovi, L. Frank, L. Munson, A.P. Wagner and R. Woodroffe, "Rabies virus and canine distemper virus in wild and domestic carnivores in Northern Kenya: Are domestic dogs the reservoir?", EcoHealth, (2013), pp. 483-498. doi:10.1007/s10393-013-0815-9

15. K.C. PragerF,C, D.J. Greig, D.P. Alt, R.L. Galloway, R.L. Hornsby, L.J. Palmer, J. Soper, Q. Wu, R.L. Zuerner, F.M.D. Gulland and J.O. Lloyd-Smith, "Asymptomatic and chronic carriage of Leptospira interrogans serovar Pomona in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus)", Veterinary Microbiology, (2013), pp. 177-183. doi:10.1016/j.vetmic.2013.01.032

16. C.A. Burge, C.M. Eakin, C.S. Friedman, B. Froelich, P.K. Hershberger, E.E. Hofmann, L.E. Petes, K.C. Prager, E. Weil, B.L. Willis, S.E. Ford and C.D. Harvell, "Climate change influences on marine infectious diseases: implications for management and society", Annual Review of Marine Science, (2013), pp. 249-277. doi:10.1146/annurev-marine-010213-135029

17. R. Woodroffe, K.C. Prager, L. Munson, P.A. Conrad, E.J. Dubovi and J.A. Mazet, "Contact with domestic dogs increases pathogen exposure in endangered African wild dog (Lycaon pictus)", PloS One, (2012), 9 pages. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0030099

18. K.C. PragerF,C, J.A.K. Mazet, L. Munson, E.J. Dubovi, M. Szykman Gunther, H.T. Davies-Mostert, J.W. McNutt, G. Rasmussen, K. Terio, S. Cleaveland, G. Mills, C.A. Donnelly and R. Woodroffe, "The effect of protected areas on pathogen exposure in endangered African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) populations", Biological Conservation, (2012), pp. 15-22. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2012.03.005

19. S.E. Bellan, C.A. Cizauskas, J. Miyen, K. Ebersohn, M. Kusters, K.C. Prager, M. Van Vuuren, C. Sabeta and W.M. Getz, "Black-backed jackal exposure to rabies virus, canine distemper virus, and Bacillus anthracis in Etosha National Park, Namibia", Journal of Wildlife Diseases, (2012), pp. 371-381. doi:10.7589/0090-3558-48.2.371

20. K.C. PragerF,C, R. Woodroffe, A. Cameron and D.T. Haydon, "Vaccination strategies to conserve the endangered African wild dog (Lycaon pictus)", Biological Conservation, (2011), pp. 1940-1948. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2011.03.025

21. Antunes, J.L. Troyer, M.E. Roelke, J. Pecon-Slattery, C. Packer, C. Winterbach, H. Winterbach, G. Hemson, L. Frank, P. Stander, L. Siefert, M. Driciru, P.J. Funston, K.A. Alexander, K.C. Prager, G. Mills, D. Wildt, M. Bush, S.J. O'Brien and W.E. Johnson, "The evolutionary dynamics of the lion Panthera leo revealed by host and viral population genomics", PLoS Genetics, (2008), 11 pages. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000251

22. M. Driciru, L. Siefert, K.C. Prager, E. Dubovi, R. Sande, F. Princee, T. Friday and L. Munson, "A serosurvey of viral enfections in lions (Panthera leo), from Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda", Journal of Wildlife Diseases, (2006), pp. 667-671. doi:10.7589/0090-3558-42.3.667


J.L. Laake, S.R. Melin, A.J. Orr, D.J. Greig, K.C. Prager, R.L. DeLong and J.D. Harris, “California sea lion sex- and age-specific morphometry”, U.S. Dep. Commer., NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-AFSC-312, (2016), 21 pages. doi: 10.7289/V5/TM-AFSC-312.