Skip to main content

Dr. Barbara A. Han

Disease Ecologist | PhD

machine learning, behavioral ecology, macroecology

845 677-7600 x135

Barbara Han’s research is at the intersection of ecology, computing, and global health. Han uses machine learning to forecast outbreaks of new zoonotic diseases – those that ‘jump’ from animals to humans. Of more than a billion cases of human illness reported each year, the majority are attributed to zoonotic pathogens.

Han employs complex computer algorithms to analyze patterns and processes in nature that could result in the next Ebola, SARS, or West Nile virus outbreak. Some of these models compare traits of known animal disease carriers – size, diet, reproductive habits, biogeography – with thousands of species not yet known to carry disease, in order to predict which animals might become disease carriers in the future. Han also works on projects that predict where and when diseases could emerge; other research investigates why and how some species transmit more zoonoses to humans than others.

Research like Han’s has the potential to become a valuable tool for public health officials. Predicting and preempting the arrival of a new zoonotic disease will save lives. This technology could also impact land management decisions, as it becomes obvious that diseases are more likely to emerge from certain habitats.

Han has partnered with diverse collaborators at IBM and NASA to advance research on global disease prediction. She contributes to efforts led by WHO and the US Government to apply this research to disease preemption

Han, Barbara A., Suzanne M. O'Regan, John Paul Schmidt, John M. Drake, and Amanda Bates. 2020. “Integrating Data Mining And Transmission Theory In The Ecology Of Infectious Diseases”. Ecology Letters 23 (8). Wiley: 1178-1188. doi:10.1111/ele.13520.
Fischhoff, Ilya R., Tao Huang, Stephen K. Hamilton, Barbara A. Han, Shannon L. LaDeau, Richard S. Ostfeld, Emma J. Rosi, and Christopher T. Solomon. 2020. “Parasite And Pathogen Effects On Ecosystem Processes: A Quantitative Review”. Ecosphere 11 (5). Wiley. doi:10.1002/ecs2.3057.
Stephens, Patrick R., Sonia Altizer, Vanessa O. Ezenwa, John L. Gittleman, Emili Moan, Barbara A. Han, Shan Huang, and Paula Pappalardo. 2019. “Parasite Sharing In Wild Ungulates And Their Predators: Effects Of Phylogeny, Range Overlap, And Trophic Links”. Journal Of Animal Ecology 88 (7). Wiley: 1017-1028. doi:10.1111/1365-2656.12987.
Han, Barbara A., S. Majumdar, F. P. Calmon, B. S. Glicksberg, R. Horesh, A. Kumar, A. Perer, et al. 2019. “Confronting Data Sparsity To Identify Potential Sources Of Zika Virus Spillover Infection Among Primates”. Epidemics 27: 59 - 65. doi:10.1016/j.epidem.2019.01.005.
Plowright, Raina K., Daniel J. Becker, Daniel E. Crowley, Alex D. Washburne, Tao Huang, P. O. Nameer, Emily S. Gurley, and Barbara A. Han. 2019. “Prioritizing Surveillance Of Nipah Virus In India”. Plos Neglected Tropical Diseases 13 (6): e0007393. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0007393.
Downs, Cynthia J., Laura A. Schoenle, Barbara A. Han, Jon F. Harrison, and Lynn B. Martin. 2019. “Scaling Of Host Competence”. Trends In Parasitology 35 (3): 182 - 192. doi:10.1016/
Schmidt, John Paul, Sean Maher, John M. Drake, Tao Huang, Maxwell J. Farrell, and Barbara A. Han. 2019. “Ecological Indicators Of Mammal Exposure To Ebolavirus”. Philosophical Transactions Of The Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 374 (1782). The Royal Society: 20180337. doi:10.1098/rstb.2018.0337.
Han, Barbara A., and Richard S. Ostfeld. 2019. “Topic Modeling Of Major Research Themes In Disease Ecology Of Mammals”. Journal Of Mammalogy 100 (3). Oxford University Press (OUP): 1008-1018. doi:10.1093/jmammal/gyy174.
Dallas, Tad A., A. Aguirre, Sarah A. Budischak, Colin Carlson, V.O. Ezenwa, Barbara A. Han, Shan Huang, and Patrick R. Stephens. 2018. “Gauging Support For Macroecological Patterns In Helminth Parasites”. Global Ecology And Biogeography 27 (12): 1437 - 1447. doi:10.1111/geb.12819.
Almeida, Rafael M., Barbara A. Han, Alexander J. Reisinger, Catherine Kagemann, and Emma J. Rosi. 2018. “High Mortality In Aquatic Predators Of Mosquito Larvae Caused By Exposure To Insect Repellent”. Biology Letters 14 (10): 20180526. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2018.0526.
Dallas, Tad A., Barbara A. Han, Charles L. Nunn, Andrew W. Park, Patrick R. Stephens, and John M. Drake. 2018. “Host Traits Associated With Species Roles In Parasite Sharing Networks”. Oikos 128 (1): 23 - 32. doi:10.1111/oik.05602.
Strona, G., C. J. Carstens, P. S. A. Beck, and Barbara A. Han. 2018. “The Intrinsic Vulnerability Of Networks To Epidemics”. Ecological Modelling 383: 91 - 97. doi:10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2018.05.013.
Walker, Joseph, Barbara A. Han, Isabel M. Ott, and John M. Drake. 2018. “Transmissibility Of Emerging Viral Zoonoses”. Plos One 13 (11): e0206926. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0206926.
Yang, Laura H., and Barbara A. Han. 2018. “Data-Driven Predictions And Novel Hypotheses About Zoonotic Tick Vectors From The Genus Ixodes”. Bmc Ecology 183 (1). doi:10.1186/s12898-018-0163-2.
Blaustein, Andrew, Jenny Urbina, Paul Snyder, Emily Reynolds, Trang Dang, Jason Hoverman, Barbara A. Han, Deanna Olson, Catherine Searle, and Natalie Hambalek. 2018. “Effects Of Emerging Infectious Diseases On Amphibians: A Review Of Experimental Studies”. Diversity 10 (3): 81. doi:10.3390/d10030081.
Evans, Michelle V., Tad A. Dallas, Barbara A. Han, Courtney C. Murdock, and John M. Drake. 2017. “Data-Driven Identification Of Potential Zika Virus Vectors”. Elife 6. doi:10.7554/eLife.22053.
Stephens, Patrick R., Paula Pappalardo, Shan Huang, J.E. Byers, Maxwell J. Farrell, Alyssa Gehman, Ria R. Ghai, et al. 2017. “Global Mammal Parasite Database Version 2.0”. Ecology 98 (5): 1476 - 1476. doi:10.1002/ecy.1799.
LaDeau, Shannon L., Barbara A. Han, Emma J. Rosi, and Kathleen C. Weathers. 2017. “The Next Decade Of Big Data In Ecosystem Science”. Ecosystems 20 (2767): 274 - 283. doi:
Schmidt, John Paul, Andrew Park, Andrew M. Kramer, Barbara A. Han, Laura W. Alexander, and John M. Drake. 2017. “Spatiotemporal Fluctuations And Triggers Of Ebola Virus Spillover”. Emerging Infectious Diseases 23 (3): 415 - 422. doi:10.3201/eid2303.160101.
Han, Barbara A., and John M. Drake. 2016. “Future Directions In Analytics For Infectious Disease Intelligence”. Embo Reports 17 (6): 785 - 789. doi:10.15252/embr.201642534.
tao huang

Tao Huang is the data manager and a programmer in the Han lab, where he manages multiple data streams, facilitates data science and collaborations, and builds and manages code and data libraries to support diverse research in infectious disease ecology. In previous research, Tao applied watershed models and statistical analyses to understand land use, water quality, and ecosystem service dynamics. He earned his M.S. in environmental science from the University of New Hampshire in 2016. For his Master’s research, he used a river network model to simulate the fate and transport of fecal indicator bacteria. Prior to conducting research in the U.S., he applied watershed models to predict water quality and ecosystem service changes in Taiwan. His research interests include macroecological modeling of infectious disease, and applying computational approaches to the protection of human health and biodiversity conservation.

Lab News

Current Projects