Dr. Clay's research focuses primarily on symbiosis, which encompasses both mutualistic and pathogenic interactions, and everything in between. Most of his research, and that of his students, has focused on plant-fungal interactions but they have also investigated bacterial communities associated with ticks, important vectors of human pathogens. The overarching questions of interest are how are symbionts transmitted and maintained in host populations, and how do symbiotic interactions affect the structure and dynamics of ecological communities? To address these questions Dr. Clay uses a wide range of approaches ranging from long-term field experiments to lab-based molecular and microbiology.
Dr. Clay recently moved to Tulane after 32 years at Indiana University to become the chair of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. He still has several large research projects based at Indiana University but is initiating new research at Tulane that takes advantage of the unique habitats and high biodiversity along the Gulf of Mexico.