Co-director, Boyd Orr Centre for Population and Ecosystem Health
Visiting Research Fellow, The Pirbright Institute
Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
College of Medical, Veterinary & Life Sciences
Room 314, Graham Kerr Building
University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G12 8QQ
Tel.: +44 141 330 6638
Previous Academic History
2003-2005: Research Fellow, Informatics, University of Edinburgh
2003: Research Staff, Neuroinformatics, ETH (Zurich) / University of Zurich
2000-2002: Researcher, Psychology, University of Stirling
1999: Researcher, Cognitive Science, University of Edinburgh
1994-1999: PhD, Artificial Intelligence, University of Edinburgh
1993-1994: MSc, Artificial Intelligence, University of Edinburgh
1989-1992: BA, Mathematics, University of Cambridge
I am a mathematical modeller with a background in mathematics and artificial intelligence. I moved into the life sciences in 2007 to study diversity. My work focusses on developing the connections between different fields that use diversity measures, from the level of the transcript to the ecosystem, and the underlying mathematics.
On the application side, much of my work is on how to measure similarity of individuals, and how to integrate this into diversity measures. I have a particular focus on antigenic similarity of viruses, especially foot-and-mouth disease and flu, where I work on the relationship between their genotypic and phenotypic evolution. This has applications in vaccine selection, which is a diversity-related problem, in this case one of maximising the diversity of viruses covered by a specific vaccine.
On the mathematical side, my interests are in the spatial and temporal partitioning of diversity, and how we can identify viral phenotypes or areas in an ecosystem that are distinct from the rest, that contribute particularly to overall diversity of the system, or that are changing faster than their surroundings.
I also work with colleagues interested in the emergence of antimicrobial resistance phenotypes and genotypes, and how we can identify sources of novel phenotypes from their background diversity or similarity to existing strains, and also on the diversity of the major histocompatibility complex in sheep and cattle, and its relationship to disease resistance.
Much of my work involves the application of mathematical, computational and statistical tools to underexploited biological datasets, particularly focussing on pathogens and vaccines, where large amounts of data are collected on protection for testing purposes which can be reused to investigate vaccine:immune system interaction. I am more generally interested in epidemiological systems and host-pathogen interactions, particularly how they affect our ability to predict the effects of vaccines in the real world. I am currently involved several projects funded by the UK government and research councils as well as the EU and the FAO.
I have also worked with the FMD Vaccine Group at Pirbright to understand how we can better assess vaccine efficacy (funded by DEFRA), and this collaboration includes SENASA in Argentina, and I have been part of a broader European project with all of the main European FMD research laboratories to improve FMDV vaccine efficacy testing and cross-protection prediction (with EU FP-7 funding).