Understanding the ecology of infectious diseases is critical to protecting public health. In the U.S., tick-borne diseases are becoming more prevalent thanks, in part, to climate change. There is no Lyme disease vaccine and treatment can be challenging. What better way to prevent tick-borne diseases than to kill off ticks? With a $5 million grant from the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation, Cary’s Rick Ostfeld has launched a five-year study to test community-based tick control interventions. Work is being done in partnership with Felicia Keesing of Bard College, who is also a Cary Visiting Scientist.
Globally, the Zika virus has captured headlines. Cary scientists are at the cutting edge of understanding the ecology of Zika. On page 5, learn about Shannon LaDeau’s expertise on urban mosquitoes and their role in disease transmission. Shannon and Rick are also co-authors on a new paper that models the probability of Zika outbreaks in East Coast cities. Meanwhile, Barbara Han has been collaborating with IBM’s Data for Social Good initiative to tap into the power of machine learning to identify potential primate reservoirs for Zika.
Our interest in disease ecology goes beyond humans. For the last two years, Cary forest ecologist Gary Lovett has been working with partners at the Science Policy Exchange and a dozen other institutions to summarize the ecological and economic impacts of imported forest pests and pathogens. This work led to a major scientific synthesis that has received wide acclaim, from the Washington Post and Newsweek to the premier scientific journal Science. Now Gary and his partners are driving policy change to apply these science-based solutions.
This summer saw the retirement of two longstanding members of the Cary research community – Clive Jones and Dave Strayer. Both will remain engaged as emeriti. Dave held the G. Evelyn Hutchinson Chair in Ecology; with his retirement, that honor was passed on to Kathie Weathers. Finally, we are pleased to announce that Chris Solomon left a tenured position at McGill University to join our staff. An expert in lake ecology and fisheries, he’s an outstanding addition to our freshwater program.
Dr. Joshua R. Ginsberg, Ph.D.