Simulating pathogen survival in a multi-host community – Graduate Student Researcher

New Haven, CT
Tick burden and aggregation affect survival of a host-specialized pathogen (portions presented at the Evolution meeting and Society of Vector Ecology congress in 2009)
Working in R, I created a model that simulates transmission of a pathogen through a heterogeneous community of hosts for several generations. In particular, I examined the effects of vector (tick) aggregation among these hosts and the implications for pathogen survival.
One of the most interesting outcomes of this study was that clustering of vectors among hosts can actually decrease the likelihood of pathogen survival, but only if the probabilities of a host becoming infected and transmitting infection are disassociated (which may be the case to some degree with ticks).
I presented this work at the Society of Vector Ecology Congress in Antalya, Turkey, as an invited student speaker, covered in Yale Public Health magazine.

Modeling wildlife vaccination – Graduate Student Researcher

Yale University
New Haven, CT

Predicted outcomes of vaccinating wildlife to reduce human risk of Lyme disease (published article)

Working primarily in MATLAB, I created a dynamic model to explore the effects of vaccinating wildlife hosts against the bacterial agent of Lyme Disease on human risk of exposure.

I found that the importance of vaccinating mice was low relative to the number of tick bites humans receive, and that the latter can easily swamp out any effects of the former. These findings suggest that if wildlife vaccination is going to be implemented, tick population control and prevention of tick bites should also be addressed to maximize risk reduction.