For rapidly evolving viruses, the time scale of epidemic spread often enables integrated reconstruction of both the evolutionary history and spatial processes underlying an epidemic. Phylogeographic inference has become a commonly used technique to study pathogen dispersal when genetic sequence data with associated information on location and date. I am interested in the development of methods for integrating further data sources such as host type and environmental variables.
With researchers at Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie (IZSve), I have been involved in the study of the spatiotemporal dynamics of the 2016-17 highly pathogenic avian influenza epidemic in Northern Italy. The epidemic was caused by viruses of the A(H5N8) subtype and affected domestic premises housing around 2.7 million birds. We aim to better understand the processes governing spatial spread of AIV and epidemic persistence and to identify factors which may predict direction of movement and at-risk farms.