Roberto Brenes, Carroll University faculty

Dr. Roberto Brenes

Assistant Professor of Biology 262.951.3295 rbrenes@carrollu.edu Rankin Hall 304B

TEACHES IN THE FOLLOWING PROGRAM(S)

Biology

Biography

Dr. Brenes joined the Biology program at Carroll University in 2013. His research mainly focuses the effects of emerging infectious diseases in ectothermic hosts, particularly disease transmission among lower vertebrates (fish, amphibians and reptiles) and ecosystem effects of species extirpations. Emerging infectious diseases have been identified as one of the most important factors responsible for aquatic ectothermic organisms declines, and the increasing presence of infectious diseases constitutes a growing threat to global biodiversity and ecosystem function.

Education

  • The University of Tennessee, ​Ph.D. in Natural Resources with Emphasis in Wildlife Diseases 
  • University of Texas at Tyler, M.S. in Biology with Emphasis in Ecology
  • Universidad de Costa Rica, B.S. in Biology

Areas of Specialization

Organismal physiology, infectious diseases in vertebrates, herpetology

Scholarly and Professional Achievements

Selected Publications

DiRenzo, G.V., Che‐Castaldo, C., Rugenski, A., Brenes, R., Whiles, M.R., Pringle, C.M., Kilham, S.S. and Lips, K.R., 2016. Disassembly of a tadpole community by a multi‐host fungal pathogen with limited evidence of recovery. Ecological Applications.

Brand, M. D., R. D., Hill, R., Brenes, J. C., Chaney, R. P., Wilkes, D. L., Miller, and M. J., Gray (2016). Water temperature affects susceptibility to ranavirus. Ecohealth. 1- 10. DOI: 10.1007/s10393-016-1120-1

Brenes, R., M. J. Gray, T. B. Waltzek, R. P. Wilkes, and D. L. Miller. 2014. Transmission of ranavirus between ectothermic vertebrate hosts. PLoS One. 9:e92476.

Brenes, R., D. L. Miller, T. B. Waltzek, R. P. Wilkes, J. L. Tucker, J. C. Chaney, R. H., Hardman, M. D. Brand, and R. R. Huether. 2014. Susceptibility of fish and turtles to three ranaviruses isolated from different ectothermic vertebrate classes. Journal of Aquatic Animal Health. 26: 118-126.

Connelly S, Pringle CM, Barnum T, Hunte - Brown M, Kilham S, M. R. Whiles, K. R. Lips, C. Colón - Gaud, and R. Brenes (2014) Initial versus longer - term effects of tadpole declines on algae in a Neotropical stream. Freshwater Biology 59: 1113 - 1122.

Connelly, S., C. M. Pringle, M. R. Whiles, K. R. Lips, S. Kilham, and R. Brenes. 2011. Do tadpoles affect leaf decomposition in Neotropical streams? Freshwater Biology 56:1863-1875.

Colon-Gaud, C., M. R. Whiles, R. Brenes, S. S. Kilham, K. R. Lips, C. M. Pringle, S. Connelly, and S. D. Peterson. 2010. Potential functional redundancy and resource facilitation between tadpoles and insect grazers in tropical headwater streams. Freshwater Biology 55:2077-2088.

Colon-Gaud, C., M. R. Whiles, K. R. Lips, C. M. Pringle, S. S. Kilham, S. Connelly, R. Brenes, and S. D. Peterson. 2010. Stream invertebrate responses to a catastrophic decline in consumer diversity. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 29:1185-1198.

Connelly, S., C. M. Pringle, R. J. Bixby, R. Brenes, M. R. Whiles, K. R. Lips, S. Kilham, and A. D. Huryn. 2008. Changes in Stream Primary Producer Communities Resulting from Large-Scale Catastrophic Amphibian Declines: Can Small-Scale Experiments Predict Effects of Tadpole Loss? Ecosystems 11:1262-1276.

Lips, K. R., F. Brem, R. Brenes, J. D. Reeve, R. A. Alford, J. Voyles, C. Carey, L. Livo, A. P. Pessier, and J. P. Collins. 2006. Emerging infectious disease and the loss of biodiversity in a Neotropical amphibian community. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 103:3165-3170.
Whiles, M. R., K. R. Lips, C. M. Pringle, S. S. Kilham, R. J. Bixby, R. Brenes, S. Connelly, J. C. Colon-Gaud, M. Hunte-Brown, A. D. Huryn, C. Montgomery, and S. Peterson. 2006. The effects of amphibian population declines on the structure and function of Neotropical stream ecosystems. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 4:27-34.


Selected Professional Presentations

Brenes, R., M. J. Gray, D. L. Miller, R. P. Wilkes, and T. B. Waltzek. 2013. Transmission of ranavirus between ectothermic vertebrate hosts. Second International Symposium on Ranaviruses, Knoxville, Tennessee. Presentation and abstract.

Brand, M. D., M. J. Gray, R. P. Wilkes, J. Tucker, R. Brenes, and D. L. Miller. 2013. Temperature affects anuran susceptibility to ranavirus. Second International Symposium on Ranaviruses, Knoxville, Tennessee. Presentation and abstract.

Brenes, R., M. J. Gray, and D. L. Miller. 2013. Community composition matters: host identity affects outcome of ranavirus outbreak in larval amphibian communities. Annual Meeting of the Southeast Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation. McCormick, South Carolina. Presentation and abstract.

Brenes, R., K. R. Lips and M. R. Whiles, C. M. Pringle, S. Kilham. Role of tadpoles in energy flow in a headwaters stream, implications following population declines. Joint meeting of Ichthyologist and Herpetologists. New Orleans LA, July 2006. Presentation and abstract.

Brenes, R., K. R. Lips and M. R. Whiles. Secondary production by tadpoles in a Neotropical headwater stream. North American Benthological society Joint Assembly. Anchorage, AK, June 2006. Presentation and abstract.

Brenes, R., and K. R. Lips. Spatial and Temporal Variation in Tadpole Communities in Neotropical Montane Streams. North American Benthological society Joint Assembly, New Orleans LA, May 2005. Presentation and abstract.

Brenes, R. and K. R. Lips. Patterns of decline in a tropical montane tadpole community. Joint meeting of Ichthyologist and Herpetologists, Tampa, FL. July 2005. Presentation and abstract.

Connelly, S.; C. M. Pringle; R. J. Bixby; M. R. Whiles; K. R. Lips; R. Brenes, J. C. Colon-Gaud; S. S. Kilham; and M. Hunte-Brown. Neotropical Amphibian Declines Affect Stream Ecosystem Properties. North American Benthological society Joint Assembly, New Orleans LA, May 2005. Presentation and abstract.

Selected Poster Presentations

Brenes, R., J. T. Hoverman, D. L. Miller, N. A. Haislip, S. R. Roon, and M. J. Gray. 2013. Phylogenetic and life history traits correlated with susceptibility to ranavirus: an expanded analysis with 35 amphibian species. Second International Symposium on Ranaviruses, Knoxville, Tennessee. Poster and abstract.

Tucker, J. L., R. Brenes, D. L. Miller, T. B. Waltzek, R. P. Wilkes, M. D. Brand, J. C. Chaney, R. Hardman, N. Hilzinger, R. Huether, and M. J. Gray. 2013. Susceptibility of common fish and chelonians to ranavirus. Second International Symposium on Ranaviruses, Knoxville, Tennessee. Poster and abstract.

Gray, M. J., R. Brenes, and D. L. Miller. 2013. Presence of amplification hosts increases mortality of syntopic amphibians by ranaviral disease. Second International Symposium on Ranaviruses, Knoxville, Tennessee. Poster and abstract.

Brenes, R., M. J. Gray, and D. L. Miller. 2012. Community composition matters: the role of anuran species susceptibility in ranaviral disease outbreaks and ecosystem function. Annual Meeting of the Southeast Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation. Fall Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee. Poster and abstract.

Hunte-Brown, M. E.; S. S. Kilham; M. R. Whiles; K. R. Lips; C. M. Pringle, J. C. Colon-Gaud; R. Brenes; and S. Connelly. The Effects of Amphibian Extirpations on Foodweb Structure and Function in Panamanian Highland Streams. North American Benthological society Joint Assembly, New Orleans LA, May 2005. Poster and abstract.

Peterson, S. D.; J. C. Colon-Gaud; M. R. Whiles; M. E. Hunte-Brown; S. Connelly; S. S. Kilham; C. M. Pringle; K. R. Lips; and R. Brenes. Organic Seston Dynamics in Upland Neotropical Streams: Implications for Amphibian Declines. North American Benthological society Joint Assembly, New Orleans LA, May 2005. Poster and abstract.

Service to Carroll University and Profession

  • Tri-Beta Biological Honor Society, Advisor, 2014-present
  • Global Medical Brigades, Advisor, 2015-present
  • IRB Committee, Member, 2015-present
  • Member of the Ranavirus Global consortium, 2013-present
  • SEPARC infectious diseases task team, 2012-present

Honors and Awards

  • Robert L. Kendall award for best paper in the Journal of Aquatic Animal Health, 2014
  • Beta Beta Beta research grant, 2016,
  • Faculty Development grant, 2014
  • Pioneer Scholar Grants for Student Faculty Research, Two grants; 2014, 2015

What is your teaching style?

I like the big picture concepts, not just how things work but how things and processes complement each other to form or explain bigger concepts. I like to teach under the light of evolution; how all systems and processes are responses of evolutionary forces.

Why do you do what you do?

I love science because it explains everything; to me, there is nothing better than to understand the physiological pathways resulting on a particular event. I’m intrigued by the processes resulting in decline of populations, how endogenous and exogenous events affect the survival of organisms and therefore populations, communities and ecosystems.  

How do you make learning engaging?

To me, one of the best ways to bring students from sheer memorization of a concept to the ability of applying the concept in real life situations or to create a new point of view, is by providing the students access to hands-on activities such as experiments, dissections, field trips, etc.

What should students know about you?

I believe, I’m a very approachable person; always open to new research ideas and collaboration, so if you have a question or ideas never hesitate to stop by my office to talk about it.

pano of main campus