Our work incorporates empirical and theoretical approaches to address research questions on the ecology and evolution of infectious diseases. To answer these questions, we draw from the fields of community ecology, population biology, behavioral ecology, epidemiology, and evolution.
We are especially interested in factors that influence disease transmission and population impacts. Much of our recent work has focused on understanding how variation among individuals - in susceptibility, infectiousness, and mortality - contributes to disease outbreaks.
To investigate these questions, we work in a number of different systems across taxa.
Our heterogeneity in susceptibility work is primarily in collaboration with Marc Lipsitch, Gabriela Gomes, and Andrew Wargo, where we are using a model system of rainbow trout, as well as data from other empirical systems, to understand how variation among individuals contributes to pathogen outbreaks. We are also trying to understand how vaccines change variance in population susceptibility.
Our heterogeneity in host infection and mortality focuses on the emerging infectious disease, white-nose syndrome, caused by the fungal pathogen Pseudogymnoascus destructans. The disease was first detected in a cave in upstate New York in 2006, and has since caused severe mortality in bat populations across eastern North America. Our research on white-nose syndrome is primarily focused on investigating factors that influence transmission, impacts, and bat community persistence. This work is highly collaborative and we work particularly closely with Joseph Hoyt, Marm Kilpatrick, and Jeff Foster, as well as state partners.