I am a MRC Skills Development Fellow at the Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, University of Glasgow, where I do research on infectious diseases. Ultimately, I am fascinated by data that can tell a story.
My research focuses on understanding biological systems that are both complex, and at least partially hidden from direct observation. I focus on endemic and emerging infectious diseases of significance to human and animal health, and my ultimate research aim is to identify the best disease management strategies for these systems.
I am particularly intrigued by multi-host pathogens. Many important human, wildlife and livestock diseases infect multiple host species; however, in most cases only a subset of the hosts that can be infected are actually important for long term pathogen persistence (i.e. the ‘reservoir’). Failure to understand which host populations constitute the reservoir can undermine disease control strategies, yet there is still no standard approach for identifying reservoirs (Viana et al. 2014 TREE). Luckily, surveillance programs, public health systems and long-term research projects are collecting unprecedented amounts of epidemiological, genomic and ecological data. As a quantitative ecologist I am interested in developing Bayesian statistical methodologies supporting the integration of multiple sources of information (such as from serology, genetic surveillance, intervention, and movement), into mechanistic models that can accurately reconstruct disease dynamics of complex epidemiological systems, in particular disease reservoirs. This will provide a testing ground to ask who is the reservoir, which population is infecting whom, how does disease spread across the landscape, what drives these disease dynamics and are the current disease control strategies effective.