Karen Shapiro, DVM MPVM PhD

Karen Shapiro

Position Title


My research career stemmed from a strong interest in water quality; having grown up in an arid climate (Israel), I was made acutely aware from an early age that water is precious. Without clean water, human livelihoods, animal health, and ecosystems will suffer. The first topic of research I pursued as a Ph.D. student focused on the waterborne transmission of Toxoplasma gondii, and specifically how this amazing parasite so easily moves from terrestrial to aquatic ecosystems. I developed a keen interest in waterborne zoonotic pathogens that soon expanded to foodborne zoonoses as well, especially those impacted by polluted waters such as shellfish food safety. My career path took me from Davis, California to Guelph, Ontario – and then back to Davis. While in Canada I gained important perspectives on food and waterborne zoonoses affecting indigenous communities in the Arctic. We are still trying to understand the transmission dynamics of protozoan pathogens such as Toxoplasma in arctic coastal ecosystems, where felids are few, but communities suffer high prevalence of infection. Toxoplasma and related apicomplexan parasites (notably Sarcocystis spp.) are also important pathogens of marine mammals, and our team strives to provide new insight on transmission dynamics of these parasites in diverse marine ecosystems, from arctic to tropical climates. 

For additional information on past and ongoing research projects please click here.