Dr. Ralene Mitschler

Photo of a protozoan parasite.

Welcome to the Mitschler Lab!

Students can conduct research on protozoan parasites that live in insects. This allows students to safely understand parasitic systems without risk of being infected themselves. These parasites (known as gregarines) are relatives of those that cause malaria, toxoplasmosis and cryptosporidiosis. Past students have conducted biosurveys of local insects and their parasites, studied the infection’s effects on behavior, and looked for genes involved in motility. Some students have tried to isolate rDNA to find evolutionary relationships between gregarines. One student made antibodies to a gregarine homogenate to look for proteins expressed by the gregarines and presented that work at a regional parasitology meeting. More recently students have searched for Toll-like Receptors (TLRs) in infected beetles and their larvae. This project has been recently expanded into a vertebrate system, using a rare, primitive breed of sheep (Jacob sheep) that is reputed to be resistant to infection to see if there is correlation between the TLRs found in the bloodstream and the current worm load (if any) in individual sheep.

Courses taught:

  • Parasitology
  • Epidemiology
  • Immunology
  • Biology of Aging (required course for minor in gerontology)
  • Principles of Biology
  • Poster Capstone Workshop
  • Senior Capstone seminar

I am the PreMed/PreVet/PreDent health advisor at McDaniel College. I advise students on optimizing their academic, research and clinical shadowing record. My goal is to help keep all health professional pathways open while a student is pursuing an undergraduate degree.