Join us in welcoming Dr. Barbara Han, the newest addition to the Cary Institute’s growing infectious disease ecology team. Han received her PhD from Oregon State University and held two postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Georgia. Her research is at the intersection of ecology, supercomputing, and public health.
Han uses “machine learning” to forecast outbreaks of zoonotic diseases—those that jump from animals to humans. Of more than a billion cases of human illness each year, the majority are attributed to pathogens maintained in animals. Han’s computer algorithms analyze patterns and processes in nature that could result in the next SARS or AIDS.
By identifying what animals carry emerging infectious diseases and where they are located, Han is creating a forecasting tool that could help predict and prevent disease outbreaks. Her work will also inform land management, as it becomes obvious which diseases are more likely to emerge from certain habitats.