Spillover Working Group

Formed as part of the President’s Interdisciplinary Seed Grant program, this group aims to develop novel data products, quantitative methods, and theory on the drivers of zoonotic spillover and the geography of emerging infectious diseases.  We seek to build new tools for predictive modeling and risk mapping that provide an economic perspective on global disease surveillance.  Recent group activities have included the development of an annotated database illustrating which factors, settings, and pathogens are most commonly associated with spillover events.

Current Projects

Disease spillover at ecological boundaries

Although spillover is commonly defined as a pathogen crossing species boundaries, there are few empirical studies or modelling frameworks that explicitly consider the ecological boundaries across which spillover occurs. When a pathogen crosses ecological boundaries, it involves processes that occur at many levels of organization: physiological processes at the individual level, interactions between individuals at the population level, populations of different species at the community level, and ecological communities within landscapes. Processes accelerating spillover often involve human activities such as habitat encroachment and land conversion, which are themselves ultimately socioeconomic. The overarching goal of this project to develop and test theories about disease spillover that operate within and across these levels of organization.  This project seeks to develop computational and statistical models of infectious disease spillover at ecological boundaries, both to test existing theory and to drive the development of new theory.  Our ultimate goal is to develop resources that are easily comprehensible by both public and technical audiences, such as maps of spillover risk under distinct ecological conditions, economic scenarios, and management strategies.

Social and ecological determinants of multi-host vector-borne infections in dynamic tropical landscapes

This project studies how the ecology and behavior of insect vectors for zoonotic protozoal diseases, and associated human risk of exposure to Chagas disease and cutaneous Leishmaniasis, depend on habitat state and environmental characteristics, including the presence of anthropogenically adapted reservoir hosts, and how human attitudes about environmental conditions affect landscape-modifying activities.  This project also examines how perception of the risk of exposure to Chagas and cutaneous Leishmaniasis affects human behavior, and how changes in human behavior affect risk of exposure.

Working Group Members:

John Drake                                   Richard Hall                      Eric Marty                         Annakate Schatz

Susana Ferreira                           Reni Kaul                           Trippe Ross                       JP Schmidt

Nicole Gottdenker                      Andrew Kramer               Cecilia Sanchez                 Joy Vaz