I am a demographer with broad interests in evolutionary ecology and infectious disease dynamics. Questions that particularly interest me currently include: how will changing human demography change infectious disease incidence and spread? What drives dynamics of rubella through space and time, and what does this indicate for vaccine control? What are the key influences on dynamics of malaria inside the bloodstream of mice, and what does this imply for control as well as evolution of the parasite? When should reproduction occur in plants where reproduction is fatal (from an evolutionary perspective) and can we link this back to the genetic background using the model plant system, Arabidopsis thaliana? How long do trees live and what does this imply for rates of carbon turnover and recovery following the spread of forest pathogens?
The within-host demography of pathogens, or pathogen population growth, spread, and clearance within our bodies, shapes their ecology and evolution, driving outcomes of public health relevance such as the emergence of drug resistance. The cross-scale dynamics of infectious disease drives its impact on human health, yet empirical studies tend to either focus on the within-host aspect or the between host aspect (transmission) — the Metcalf Lab has developed key methods to bridge this gap. Both within-host and between-host dynamics will contribute to defining landscapes of immunity and is a major focus of the lab in the context of immediate public health relevance. Broadly the Metcalf Lab blends basic ecological research with paramount applications. The underlying synthesis of demography and disease dynamics across scales ranging from within host to across and between countries is a distinguishing feature of the lab.
Faculty Assistant: Sandy Cominski