Joyce M. Sakamoto, Ph.D.

  • Research Associate
W-104 Millennium Science Complex
University Park, PA 16802
Work Phone: 814-863-3662


  1. B.S., Microbiology, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
  2. M.S., Plant Pathology, University of California Davis
  3. Ph.D., Plant Pathology, University of California Davis

I am interested in microbial ecology at the host population level, with particular emphasis on tick-associated microbes. I have a background in applied microbiology (plant pathology), rickettsiology, and human microbiome studies. My research areas include three broad areas: 1) tick population genetics, 2) dynamics of tick microbiomes and inter-microbial interactions therein, and 3) ecological factors associated with shifts in tick species prevalence (e.g. vertebrate host migration, vegetation, alternative hosts, overproliferation of deer, invasive species, etc).

Specific Areas of research

My primary system of interest is the deer tick, Ixodes scapularis and the bacteria associated with them (microbiome, or all microbes within a given biological unit). I use microbiome data to determine the background microbial community structure within and between populations of ticks. I can then assess the effects of shifts and destabilization of these communities on tick behavior/biology.

Other interests

Because microbiome concepts can be applied to any biological systems, I have also expanded into mining the bacterial and viral community structures of two mushroom fly pests to identify potential biocontrol agents.