Dr. Barbara Han
Barbara Han is a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. Her current research applies machine learning and other computational tools to predict novel hosts, vectors, pathogens, and environments from which pathogen spillovers and disease outbreaks may occur. Prior to starting at the Cary Institute, Dr. Han completed two consecutive postdoc fellowships at the University of Georgia, exploring how transmission may vary predictably with host behavior in wild mammals using dynamical models (NSF Biological Informatics fellowship), and how machine learning tools and informatics can be applied to ecological data to discover new hypotheses and actionable steps to mitigate zoonotic disease (NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award). Dr. Han's interest in disease ecology began as a graduate student in the Blaustein Lab at Oregon State University, when amphibian chytridiomycosis was just emerging. She used lab and field experiments to investigate how chytrid infection changes host behaviors, and how host community context impacts infection severity and mortality for different species. While completing her Ph.D., Dr. Han spent a year conducting field work as a U.S. Fulbright Fellow in Venezuela to investigate the distribution of chytrid fungus in native amphibians in the Andes.
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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 future research interests include macroecological modeling of infectious disease, and applying computational approaches to the protection of human health and biodiversity conservation.
Dr. Sarah E. Bowden
Sarah Bowden was a postdoctoral scientist in the Han Lab, and is currently a contract data-scientist at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, GA working in the Office of Innovation, Development, Evaluation, and Analytics (IDEA) in the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine. Sarah is studying the applications of machine learning to the ecology and epidemiology of vector-borne disease. She received a B.S. (2009) and Ph.D. (2016) in Ecology with Dr. John Drake from the University of Georgia (UGA). Her dissertation research examined potential trans-boundary effects in mosquito vectors - for example, how species interactions, like competition between species as larvae, impact community composition at the adult stage, and the transmission dynamics of the zoonotic pathogens they vector. During her nine years at UGA, Sarah collaborated on research in several infectious disease systems, including West Nile virus (a widespread mosquito-borne flavivirus), white nose syndrome (a highly pathogenic fungal disease of bats), and Ebola virus.
Vijay Ramesh was a Data Manager for the Han Lab, and is currently a PhD student at Columbia University. His expertise ranges from geospatial and statistical analysis, including machine learning and genetic tools for conservation. He received a B. Engg in Biotechnology in 2013 and an MA in Conservation Biology from Columbia University in 2016. For his Master's, he used geospatial, statistical and machine learning tools to map geographic ranges for all endemic birds of the Western Ghats, India. His thesis identified a mismatch that exists between ranges used by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and ranges predicted using high-resolution data. Over the last several years, Vijay has worked on multiple projects including avian sampling in the Himalayas, camera-trapping tigers, detecting cryptic diversity within a genus of frogs in the Western Ghats, extracting ancient DNA at the American Museum of Natural History and estimating forest loss in Mozambique.
Pasha Feinberg was a research specialist and lab manager for the Han Lab. Pasha earned her B.S. and M.S. in environmental science from Stanford University. Her master's research examined how land use change can influence infectious disease risk in East African ecosystems. Prior to the joining the Han Lab, Pasha wrangled small mammals (and ticks!) in the Ostfeld Lab at the Cary Institute, examined ways to reduce green house gas emissions from deforestation in Indonesia and Brazil on the Environmental Defense Fund's International Climate team, and tracked spinner dolphins around the Hawaiian Islands at NOAA. Pasha's goal in life is to hug (and perhaps acquire zoonotic pathogens from) a native animal on each continent--so far she's befriended fauna on North America, South America, Australia, and Africa and she has high hopes that Antarctic penguins are friendly!
Nicholas Jakubek is an amphibian field technician for the Han Lab. As a Wildlife and Conservation Biology major at the University of Rhode Island, Nick worked in Dr. Karraker's lab assisting in research monitoring eastern box turtle populations and investigating long term effects of Bamboo Pit Viper relocation in Southeast Asia. After graduation, Nick began work as a project assistant in Dr. Ostfeld's lab on a long term monitoring project looking at the ecology of Lyme disease in small mammal populations. Nick's research interests in herpetofaunal ecology, conservation, and disease ecology have lead him to work with Dr. Han on a project looking at local amphibian habitats and potential indicators of amphibian pathogens.
Laura Yang completed a two year internship in the Han Lab conducting research on Ixodes ticks, using machine learning methods to identify which traits make certain tick species more likely to vector zoonotic diseases. This work was published in BMC Ecology (check it out, here). Laura has presented this work at numerous science competitions and science fairs over the last year, and has prepared a manuscript on this research for publication. This work has also been presented at the 2016 International Conference of Machine Learning. Laura recently graduated as valedictorian of her class from Spackenkill High School in Poughkeepsie, NY, and is currently an undergraduate at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, GA. Laura is pursuing a degree in environmental engineering.
Catherine Kagemann was a 2015 REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) student in the Han Lab and the LaDeau Lab. Her research at the Cary Institute focused on determining how the presence and predation on mosquito larvae by amphibians affect mosquito populations. Catherine is from Bloomington, Indiana and attends Indiana University where she is a biology major interested primarily in genetics and ecology. At Indiana University, Catherine works in the Lynch Lab researching the infection of Paramecium caudatum by bacterial endosymbionts such as Holospora undulata.
Michelle Victoria, an undergrad at St. Edward's University, was a 2015 REU student in the Han Lab. Michelle is interested in disease ecology, specifically the interactions between chytrid fungus and amphibians with an emphasis on management techniques. Michelle researched whether or not filter feeding invertebrates feed on chytrid zoospores and significantly alter the chance of amphibian infection.