Wildlife Disease

My field research has focused on two bacterial zoonoses (animal diseases that can be transmitted to humans): plague and Lyme disease.

Plague, caused by Yersinia pestis, is famous for the Black Death, but also affects wildlife populations. In particular, prairie dogs can be decimated by outbreaks of the disease. Previous research with Dr. Paul Stapp (Cal State Fullerton) concentrated on the role of community ecology and multi-species interactions in determining the dynamics of plague outbreaks. Currently, we are investigating the landscape ecology and mechanisms of Y. pestis' persistence and movement at a regional scale.

Lyme disease, caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, is the most frequently-reported vector-borne disease in the United States. My research in northwestern California investigates Lyme disease ecology and epidemiology and other emerging tick-borne pathogens such as Borrelia miyamotoi. I am working with Nathan Nieto (Northern Arizona University), Dr. Robert Lane (UC Berkeley), Eric Lambin (Stanford) & the Vector-Borne Disease Section at California Department of Public Health.

My research has also examined links between biodiversity, conservation and human disease risk.

One Health

The 'One Health' framework attempts to understand health issues from wildlife, animal, human and environmental perspectives and is inherently inter-disciplinary.

I am adopting this framework in an attempt to understand emerging zoonoses in East Africa, working with Drs. Hillary Young & Doug McCauley of UC-Santa Barbara; and the impacts of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas (fracking) in the western USA.