Principal Investigator

Gerry Carter (CV) (Google Scholar)

I started the lab in Fall 2018. We study the evolution and ecology of animal cooperation, communication, and cognition. How do animals decide who they help? What factors predict whether two strangers will become become ‘friends’? What are the relative roles of contingency, interdependence, and nepotism for stabilizing the evolution of cooperative traits? Do certain kinds of vocal interactions lead to social bonding? Most recently, I am testing ideas about how new cooperative food-sharing relationships develop among vampire bats. My familiarity with the natural history of vampire bats helps me develop testable hypotheses about their behavior. I’m also interested in improving access to science and the incentive structures of academia. More about me.

Postdoctoral Scientists

Sebastian Stockmaier (website) (Google Scholar)
I have been a postdoc in Gerry’s lab since June 2021. I am a behavioral ecologist with a background in immunology and infectious disease biology. I am broadly interested in how host behaviors affect pathogen transmission within and between species and how pathogens affect host social behaviors. I aim to use high-resolution proximity sensors to describe dynamic contact networks between vampire bats and their livestock hosts (and their potential effect on cross-species transmission). I love bats, fieldwork, and science outreach, and if I am not chasing vampire bats through the forest, I enjoy football (the European kind), hiking, paddle boarding, and camping.

M. May Dixon (Google Scholar) (CV)
I started as a postdoc in the Carter lab in December 2021. As a behavioral ecologist, I am broadly interested in how animals have behaviorally, cognitively, and morphologically diversified and adapted to their specific niches. Previously, I studied how phyllostomid bats use cognition in the context of foraging. I am excited to use bioacoustics and social networks to explore vampire bat social cognition. I am passionate about outreach, pedagogy, and making biology a more welcoming and equitable profession for all.  In my free time I love crafting, urban foraging, recording soundscapes, and admiring lichen.

Graduate Students

Imran Razik (website)(Google Scholar)
I joined the Carter Lab as a PhD student in 2018 after completing my undergraduate degree in Zoology at SUNY Oswego. I’m largely interested in the behavioral ecology of mammals, and more specifically, bats. For my dissertation, I work with captive vampire bats at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. I aim to test if and how partner choice and individual differences in cooperative behavior affect the formation of new social bonds between strangers. I believe strongly that teaching, mentorship, and science communication should be accessible, effective, and fun.

Julia Vrtilek
I started my Ph.D. in the Carter Lab in Autumn 2020, following a B.A. in Biology (Amherst College 2015), an internship in the Page Lab (Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute), and an M.S. in Biology (ETH Zürich 2019). I am interested in social behaviors, particularly cooperation, communication, and social learning. I am currently using a massive dataset of vampire bat contact calls to study the relationship between social bonds and vocal communication. I also plan to study the stability of vampire bat social bonds. One of my goals as a scientist is to write clearly and comprehensibly; good writing is an essential part of making both professional and popular science communication accurate, engaging, and accessible.

Raven Hartman
I joined the lab Summer 2020 as a BSc student in zoology, and started in Fall 2021 as a MSc student. Previously, I obtained a BS in aerospace engineering with a minor in mathematics and an MS in aerospace engineering with a focus on control theory from the University of Cincinnati. I’m currently interested in studying animal behavior and potentially applying my knowledge of mathematics and sensory information to a new field.

Haley Gmutza
I started my PhD in the Carter Lab in Autumn 2022 after completing my BS in Zoology at Michigan State University and my MSc in EEOB at Eastern Michigan University. I am broadly interested in cooperative and social behavior in mammals. I will be looking at partner switching in a captive colony of vampire bats on campus. I love to draw in my free time, and I am passionate about teaching and outreach in the sciences.

Research-active undergraduate students

Eleanor Cronin
I am majoring in Biology. I joined the lab in the fall of 2019 as a freshman. I am working on a project about the effect of rabies on behaviors of vampire bats.

Michael Abou-Elias

I am a Neuroscience student, and I’m interested in how social behavior in animals relates to humans. I am currently working on a project involving the effects of a staph infection on the behaviors of vampire bats.

Jimmy Chen

I am a Biology and Accounting major. I’m working on a project to determine whether vampire bats tend to groom each other on parts of the body that are hard for the bats to reach themselves when self-grooming.

Pictures from lab socials


Carter Lab Alumni
name and employment destination

  • Emma Kline (undergrad 2018-2021), Biomimicry Design Alliance
  • Jessica Nystrom (undergrad 2019-2021), Memphis Zoo
  • Bridget Brown (grad student 2018- 2020), Clemson University
  • Simon Ripperger (postdoc 2018-2021), German Government
  • David Girbino (undergrad 2018-2020), graduate student at U Hawaii
  • Sebastian Stockmaier (postdoc 2021-2022), University of Tennessee Knoxville

Previous members of ‘Team Vampire’ at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute:

  • Sebastian Stockmaier (2016-2019)
  • Dineilys Aparicio (2019)
  • Lovisa Duck (2019)
  • Darija Josic (2017)
  • Samuel Kaiser (2017)
  • Jineth Berrio-Martinez (2017)
  • Katharina Eggert (2017)
  • Nia Toshkova (2017)
  • Hugo Narizano (2016)
  • Julia Vrtilek (2016-2017)
  • Ellen Jacobs (2016)
  • Rachel Moon (2016)
  • Yelitza Garcia (2016)
  • Emily Dong (2016)
  • Yesenia Valverde (2016)
  • Rachel Crisp (2016- 2017)
  • Jana Nowatzki (Spring 2016)

Previous research assistants at University of Maryland:

  • Erik Kim (Spring 2013)
  • Edward Hurme (Summer 2013)
  • Micah Miles (2013)
  • Lauren Leffer (2013- 2014)
  • Collin Mummert (Spring 2012)
  • Anna Jiang (Fall 2011)
  • Tanya Tran (Fall 2011)
  • Alex Lundy (Summer and Fall 2011)
  • Ryane Logsdon (Summer 2011)
  • Adi Shaked (Fall 2010)

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