Carly R. Muletz Wolz, Ph.D., M.S.
Dr. Carly R. Muletz Wolz is a molecular ecologist. She takes a holistic view of plants and animals by considering their genes, their microbiomes, and their environment with the goal to improve organismal and ecosystem health. She is fascinated by the role microorganisms play in the ecology and evolution of plants and animals. She uses a variety of tools in her research, including microbiology, molecular biology, ancient DNA and statistics. She loves being in the field studying salamanders, but also enjoys mentoring, designing experiments, conducting lab work, and analyzing data. Dr. Muletz Wolz's findings help guide conservation action and address fundamental questions on host-microbial dynamics.
Dr. Muletz Wolz’s main focus of research has been on studying the deadly chytrid pathogen of amphibians, but in recent years she has expanded her research into a variety of other systems through collaborations with other Smithsonian scientists. She approaches her research be viewing microorganisms as both friends and foes. She is particularly interested in what influences the distribution of beneficial microbes and ways we may be able to use beneficial microbes to protect hosts against disease.
Muletz Wolz's projects include:
- Identifying mechanisms leading to amphibian host defenses against pathogens
- Understanding what controls microbial diversity in milk across the mammalian tree of life
- Identifying relationships between gut microbiomes and animal health in zoo populations, including in elephants, cheetahs, primates and wolves
- Quantifying how agroforestry practices impact coffee soil microbiomes
- Utilizing museum collections to identify historic distribution of pathogens
Dr. Muletz Wolz uses an interdisciplinary approach to address important topics in biology. She believes it is critical that we understand how microorganisms impact plant and animal health and use that information to tackle the underlying cause of unhealthy systems and save species. The causes of disease range from infectious microorganisms, such as viral and fungal pathogens, to genetic and autoimmune disorders. The introduction of pathogens into naïve wildlife communities is one of the greatest threats to biodiversity. Likewise, non-infectious diseases are also emerging across the modern world, which include genetic and autoimmune disorders. Such diseases not only affect humans, but also impact the health and well-being of zoo animals and ex situ animal populations. Disease is, in large part, driving losses to global biodiversity, and may have compounding effects with climate change. Developing strategies to reduce biodiversity losses from disease and climate change are some of Dr. Muletz Wolz's conservation goals.
Dr. Muletz Wolz obtained her Bachelor of Science in Biology and Spanish language and literature from Frostburg State University, her Master of Science in Biology from James Madison University and her doctorate in Biological Sciences from the University of Maryland. She grew up in a small town in the Appalachian Mountains, Frostburg, Maryland. She loves the tranquility of nature and enjoys spending time in her garden and camping with her family.