I am currently working on the development of spatial models of rabies transmission dynamics at landscape scales. These models are fit using historical time-series data on disease prevalence, and are then used to evaluate the expected efficacy of control strategies. In the case of the Serengeti District in northern Tanzania the population of domestic dogs, which are used for livestock protection, acts as the reservoir for rabies that then spills over into other mammals (livestock, wildlife) and results in numerous cases of rabies in humans (Cleaveland et al 2002, Cleaveland et al 2006). The models of rabies transmission I am working on (in collaboration with Sarah Cleaveland, Katie Hampson, and Tiziana Lembo) are used to evaluate two things: the likely source of reinfection of the domestic dog population following local extinction of rabies, and an evaluation of the expected efficacy of different vaccine deployment regimes.
Fitting disease models is notoriously difficult because disease data is often noisy, incomplete, and may relate only indirectly to the real process of interest (i.e. sentinels). We have developed a new Bayesian approach to model fitting that shows a great deal of promise. The Bayesian framework allows us to explicitly model error in the data, it accommodates missing data, and through the use of latent variables provides a method of explicitly modeling indirect measures of the true variable of interest.
I am also interested in investigating how fine scale movement data (e.g. GPS telemetry data) can improve our understanding of inter and intra-specific interactions between individuals, and how mechanistic movement models inform our understanding of habitat use in ways that traditional modeling approaches (e.g. resource selection functions) cannot. In particular, we are working with Juan M. Morales and Daniel Fortin to look at how Bayesian movement models can be used to evaluate proactive management actions designed to remediate incursions of bison into farmland adjacent to the protected area in which they primarily reside.
I have worked closely with Dan Haydon for two years now and have no hesitation in giving him the highest possible recommendation to any prospective postgraduate students or postdocs. All of Dan's students learn immensely from him, both in respect to modeling and his approaches to problem solving in general. He is very supportive and has pulled together a vigorous and fertile research group. It is a fantastic group to work with. (But if you come to work with Dan be prepared for some challenging days out on the Scottish hills! Some of the fruits of such trips are shown in the pictures on this page).
Cleaveland, S., Fevre, E. M., Kaare, M. & Coleman, P. G. (2002) Estimating human rabies mortality in the United Republic of Tanzania from dog bite injuries. Bulletin Of The World Health Organization, 80, 304-310.
Cleaveland, S., Kaare, M., Knobel, D. & Laurenson, M. K. (2006) Canine vaccination - Providing broader benefits for disease control. Veterinary Microbiology, 117, 43-50.