Professor Mary Garvin
  • Professor of Biology


  • BA, Hiram College, 1986
  • MS, Louisiana State University, 1989
  • PhD, University of Florida, 1996


The Garvin lab studies the ecology of disease.

Our primary focus is the transmission of parasites and viruses in wild bird populations, specifically the role of volatile and semi-volatile chemicals in the interactions between birds and mosquito vectors of virus. We’re especially interested in understanding the role of bird preen gland secretions in attracting mosquitoes to birds that serve as reservoir hosts of West Nile.

In collaboration with chemist Rebecca Whelan of the University of Notre Dame, over the past decade we’ve conducted field and lab studies to describe intra-and inter-specific variation in the components of the secretions. Most recently we’ve conducted lab bioassays to test for the effect of these compounds on mosquito blood meal choice. For this work, we maintain a mosquito colony, featured in 2018 senior Cella Wright’s award-winning documentary video .

We are also studying local tick populations to determine the prevalence of three bacterial infections, including Borrelia burgorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease. This study is in collaboration with Ryan Ragland  ’00 of Biomeme Inc., who is involved in the development of the mobile DNA detection technology that we are currently using.

A third focus of our lab is the detection of heavy metal carcinogens in Eastern Cottonwood trees in a local cancer cluster. Through this work, a collaboration with geochemist Johan Schjiff of the University of Maryland, geologist Greg Wiles of the College of Wooster, and Rebecca Whelan, we seek to determine if abundance of carcinogenic heavy metals in samples collected within the cluster area is higher than those collected in adjacent areas.

I teach the following courses:

  • BIOL 200 Genetics, Evolution, and Ecology with Katherine Cullen, Mike Moore, and Angie Roles
  • BIOL 308 Disease Ecology and BIOL 320 Invertebrate Biology, both lecture and lab courses with field components and semester-long research projects
  • First Year Seminar 116 Ecology of the Vermilion River Watershed, in which place-based experiential learning involves weekly field trips to the local watershed. 
  • BIOL 501/502  Mentored Research, through which students belong to a research community and experience all of the joys and sorrows of the scientific process. Refer to the publications section to see the results of our work.

Publications (*Oberlin College student):

Garvin M.C., J. Schijf, S.R. Kaufman*, C. Konow*, D. Liang, A.E. Nigra*, N.H. Stracker*, R.J. Whelan, and G.C. Wiles. 2020. A survey of trace metal burdens in increment cores from eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides) across a childhood cancer cluster, Sandusky County, OH, USA. Chemosphere 238, 124528, doi:10.1016/j.chemosphere.2019.124528.

Garvin, M.C., A. Austin*, K. Boyer*, M Gefke*, C. Wright*, Y. Pryor*, A. Soble*, and R.J. Whelan. 2018. Attraction of Culex pipiens to House Sparrows is influenced by host age but not uropygial gland secretions. Insects 9:127.

Schijf, J. and M.C. Garvin. 2018. A method for the routine analysis of trace metals in tree increment cores using microwave digestion and ICP-MS. Geochemical Journal. 52: doi:10.2343/geochemj.2.0524.

Garvin, M.C., A.L. Austin*, N.H. Stracker*, S.P. Slowinski*, J.E. Rutter*, M. Butler*, M. Michel*, and R. J Whelan. 2018. Attraction of Culex pipiens to uropygial gland secretions of American Robins. Journal of Vector Ecology 43:110-116.

Owen, J.C., M.C. Garvin, and F.R. Moore. 2014. Elevated testosterone advances onset of migratory restlessness in a nearctic-neotropical landbird. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 68: 561-569.

Owen, J.C., M.C. Garvin, and F.R. Moore. Elevated testosterone advances onset of migratory restlessness in a nearctic-neotropical landbird. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. online Dec. 2013; print forthcoming in 2014.

Owen, J.C., E.A. Cornelius, D.A. Arsnoe, and M.C. Garvin. 2013. Leucocyte response to Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis Encephalitis virus in a wild passerine bird. Avian Disease 57(4): 744-749.

Owen, J.C., F.R. Moore, A.J. Williams, L.Stark, E.A. Miller*, V.L. Morley*, A.R. Krohn*, and M.C. Garvin. 2011. Test of recrudescence hypothesis for overwintering of eastern equine encephalitis virus in gray catbirds. Journal of Medical Entomology 48: 896-903.

Shaw, C.L*., J.E. Rutter*, A.L. Austin*, M.C. Garvin, and R.J. Whelan. 2011. Volatile and semi-volatile compounds in gray catbird uropygial secretions vary with age and between breeding and wintering grounds. Journal of Chemical Ecology 37: 329-339.

Whelan, R., T. Levin*, J.C. Owen, and M.C. Garvin. 2010. Short-chain carboxylic acids from gray catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) uropygial secretions vary with testosterone level and photoperiod. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, Part B 156:183-188.

Owen, J.C., F.R. Moore, A.J. Williams, E.A. Miller*, L.C. Wilson*, V. Morley*, R.N. Abbey-Lee*, B.A. Veeneman*, B. DeRussey, M. McWhorter, M.C. Garvin. 2010. Test of recrudescence hypothesis for overwintering of West Nile virus. Journal of Medical Entomology 47:451-457.

Owen, J.C. and M.C. Garvin. 2010. Emerging Issues: Epizootiology of West Nile virus in birds. In: S.K. Majumdar, T.L. Master, R. Mulvihill, M. Brittingham, and J. Huffman Eds. Avian Ecology and Conservation: A Pennsylvania Focus with National Implication. Pennsylvania Academy of Science.

White, B.J.*, D.R. Andrew*, N.Z. Mans*, O.J. Ohajuruka, and M.C. Garvin. 2006. West Nile virus in mosquitoes of northern Ohio. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 75(2):346-349.

Garvin, M.C., C.C. Szell and F.R. Moore. 2006. Blood parasites of neartic- neotropical passerine birds during spring trans-Gulf migration: Impact on host body condition. Journal of Parasitology 92(5):990-996.

Garvin, M.C. and S.J. Schoech. 2006. Hormone levels and infection of Haemoproteus danilewskyi in free-ranging blue jays (Cyanocitta cristata). Journal of Parasitology 92(3): 659-662.Scheidler, L.C.*, M.M. Dunphy-Daly*, B.J. White*, D.R. Andrew*, N.Z. Mans*, and M.C. Garvin. 2006. Survey of Ochlerotatus triseriatus (Diptera: Cilicidae) for LaCrosse encephalitis virus and West Nile virus in Lorain County Ohio. Journal of Medical Entomology 43(3):589-593.

Garvin, M.C., K.A. Tarvin, J. Smith, O.A. Ohajuruka, and S.D. Grimes. 2004. Patterns of West Nile virus infection in Ohio blue jays: implications for initiation of the annual cycle. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 70:566-570.

Mans, N.Z.*, S.E. Yurgionas*, M.C. Garvin, R. Gary, J.D. Bresky*, A.C. Galaitsis*, and O.A. Ohajuruka. 2004. West Nile virus in mosquitoes of northern Ohio 2001-2002. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 70:562-565.

Garvin, M.C., L.C. Scheidler*, D.G. Cantor*, and K.E. Bell*. 2004. Abundance and temporal distribution of Ornithonyssus sylviarum Canestrini and Fanzago (Acarina: Mesostigmata) in gray catbird (Dumatella carolinensis) nests. Journal of Vector Ecology

Garvin, M.C., P.P. Marra, and S. Crain*. 2004. Prevalence of hematozoa in overwintering American Redstarts (Setophaga ruticilla): no evidence for local transmission. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 40 (1):115-118.

Garvin, M.C., O.A. Ohajuruka, K.E. Bell*, and S.L. Ives*. 2004. Seroprevalence of eastern equine encephalitis virus in birds and larval survey of Culiseta melanura Coquillett during an interepizootic period in central Ohio. Journal of Vector Ecology 29(1):73-78.

Garvin, M.C., K.A. Tarvin, L.M. Stark, G.E. Woolfenden, J. W. Fitzpatrick, and J. F. Day. 2004. Arboviral infection in two species of wild jays (Aves: Corvidae): evidence for population impacts. Journal of Medical Entomology 41:215-225.

Garvin, M.C., J.P. Basbaum*, R.M. Ducore*, and K. E. Bell*. 2003. Patterns of Haemoproteus beckeri parasitism in the gray catbird (Dumatella carolinensis) during the breeding season. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 39:582-587.

Garvin, M.C., B.L. Homer, and E.C. Greiner. 2003. Pathogenicity of Haemoproteus danilewskyi, Kruse, 1890, in blue jays (Cyanocitta cristata). Journal of Wildlife Diseases 39:161-169.

Garvin, M.C. and E.C. Greiner. 2003. Epizootiology of Haemoproteus danilewskyi (Haemosporina: Haemoproteidae) in blue jays in south-central Florida: Patterns of infection and ecology of suspected Culicoides spp. (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) vectors. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 39:1-9.

Garvin, M.C. and E.C. Greiner. 2003. Ecology of Culicoides (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) in south-central Florida and experimental Culicoides vectors of the avian blood haematozoa Haemoproteus danilewskyi Kruse. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 39:170- 178.

Tarvin, K.A., and M.C. Garvin. 2002. Habitat and nesting success of Blue Jays: the importance of scale. Auk: The Quarterly Journal of Ornithology 119: 971-983.

Tarvin, K.A., M.C. Garvin, J.M. Jawor, and K.A. Dayer. 1998. A field evaluation of techniques to estimate density of Blue Jays. Journal of Field Ornithology 69:209- 222.

Garvin, M.C., J.M. Bates, and J.M. Kinsella. 1997. Field techniques for collecting and preserving helminth parasites from birds, with new geographic and host records of parasitic nematodes from Bolivia. Theodore A. Parker Memorial Volume. Ornithological Monographs No. 48:161-166.

Garvin, M.C. and J.V. Remsen, Jr. 1997. Evidence for an alternative explanation for the Hamilton-Zuk hypothesis concerning parasitism and sexual dimorphism. Auk: The Quarterly Journal of Ornithology 114:179-191.

Michot, T.C., M.C. Garvin, and E.H. Weidner. 1995. Blood parasites in overwintering populations of redhead ducks on the Chandeleur Islands, Mississippi. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 31:90-92.

Young, B.E., M.C. Garvin, D.B. McDonald. 1993. Blood parasites of some birds from Monteverde, Costa Rica. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 29:555-560.

Garvin, M.C., J.V. Remsen, Jr., M.A. Bishop, and G.F. Bennett. 1993. Hematozoa in passeriform birds in Louisiana. Journal of Parasitology 79:318-312.

Garvin, M.C. and P.P. Marra. 1991. Blood parasites of some Puerto Rican birds. Caribbean Journal of Science 27:93-94.

Bennett, G.F., M.C. Garvin, and J. M. Bates. 1990. Blood parasites of some birds from Bolivia. Journal of Parasitology 77:207-211.

Bates, J.M., M.C. Garvin, G.C. Schmitt, and D.C. Schmitt. 1989. Notes on bird distribution in northeastern Dpto. Santa Cruz, Bolivia, with 15 new species to Bolivia. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Union 109:236-244.

Huehner, M.K., K. Hannan, and M.C. Garvin. 1989. Feeding habits and marginal organ histochemistry of Aspidogaster conchicola, (Trematoda: Aspidogastrea). Journal of Parasitology 75:848-852.


Oberlin to Launch Integrative Concentration in Global Health

December 1, 2020
Oberlin College will launch an integrative concentration in Global Health in fall 2021, recognizing that worldwide threats to mental and physical wellness are most successfully addressed with the holistic, interdisciplinary approach that is the core of liberal arts education.

The Teaching Garden

August 21, 2020
This academic year, many students will learn in outdoor classrooms and some will have the opportunity to explore Oberlin’s pollinator garden—a living classroom inside the Science Center.

This Week in Photos: Changes on Campus

August 18, 2020
Adjustments to a new kind of normal have led many to wonder what to expect when they come to campus. Maybe this will help: Although the changes are apparent—with many spaces receiving safety measure makeovers—they cannot overshadow the beauty of the campus and community.