Hello! My name is Carolyn Elya and I’m a HHMI Hanna Gray fellow and postdoctoral researcher in Benjamin de Bivort’s lab in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. I study the neurobiological basis of parasitic behavior manipulation in fruit flies infected by the mind-altering pathogen Entomophthora muscae, aka “zombie flies”. In particular, I’m interested in understanding what fly neural circuits E. muscae hijacks to make sick flies “summit” – climb to an elevated location – prior to its untimely death.
Before moving to Cambridge, I earned my doctorate with Michael Eisen in the Molecular and Cell Biology Department at the University of California, Berkeley in 2017 and a Bachelor of Arts in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Reed College in 2009.
When I’m not thinking about zombie flies, I love to spend time with my husband, son, and trio of small pets (two dogs and a cat), make bad puns, read, and solve crossword puzzles, more or less in that order.