I am currently an Assistant Professor of Biology at University of Wisconsin-Platteville. I work with undergraduate researchers on the biology of amphibians and reptiles. We are studying state-endangered Blanchard’s cricket frog, and we collaborate with state agencies and other stakeholders in Wisconsin.

Previously I was postdoctoral research associate in Dr. Erica Crespi’s lab at Washington State University in Pullman, WA. I collaborated with Dr. Crespi on an NSF funded landscape level assessment of stress responsiveness across the range of the eastern clade of the Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica). We also collaborated on projects pertaining to the influence of stress physiology and leptin on limb regeneration in the African Clawed Frog (Xenopus laevis).

From 2010-2012, I was a lecturer of biology at Troy University, Montgomery, AL. I take great pride in my ability to teach. I love getting students interested in biology and helping them generate a sense of wonder about the biological world that is inside and around them.

At Auburn University, my doctoral work with Dr. Mary Mendonça focused on the physiological effects of the amphibian chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), on the Australian Green Tree Frog (Litoria caerulea). This work documented the time course of changes in electrolytes, corticosterone, leukocytes, metabolic rate, appetite, body condition, Bd burden, and skin shedding during infection with Bd. During this time, I also documented, for the first time in a frog, that exogenous corticosterone elevates resting metabolic rate. Collectively, my dissertation provides novel insight into the pathogenesis and disease ecology of Bd.


Prior to beginning my doctoral work, I worked on a Master’s degree with Dr. Mendonça on the negative physiological effects of coal combustion wastes on development and metamorphosis in the Southern Leopard Frog (Rana sphenocephala).

In 2004, I was a visiting research fellow collaborating with Dr. William Hopkins at the University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecology Laboratory in Aiken, SC. My work addressed the presence of Bd in larval American Bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana) and Southern Leopard Frogs (Rana sphenocephala) in contaminated and control wetlands at the Savannah River Site, SC.

Representative Publications

Peterson, J. D., V. A. Peterson, and M. T. Mendonça. 2009. Exposure to coal combustion residues during metamorphosis elevates corticosterone content and adversely affects oral morphology, growth, and development in Rana sphenocephalaComparative Biochemistry and Physiology, Part C 149: 36-39.

Peterson, J. D., V. A. Peterson, and M. T. Mendonça. 2008. Growth and developmental effects of coal combustion residues on Southern Leopard Frog (Rana sphenocephala) tadpoles exposed throughout metamorphosis. Copeia 3: 499-503.

Peterson, J. D., M. B. Wood*, W. A. Hopkins, J. M. Unrine, and M. T. Mendonça. 2007. Prevalence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in American Bullfrog and Southern Leopard Frog larvae from wetlands on the Savannah River Site, South Carolina. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 43(3): 450-460.

Muzzall, P.M., J. D. Peterson, and M. G. Gillilland III. 2003. Helminths of Notophthalmus viridescens (Caudata: Salamandridae) from 118th Pond, Michigan, U.S.A. Comparative Parasitology 70(2): 214-217.