Epidemiology at the interface of ecology and evolution

Seminar Details
Thursday, October 14, 2021 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm


Ethan Obie Romero-Severson, Ph.D.
Staff Scientist, Los Alamos National Lab



Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Seminar

Speaker Profile

Abstract: The central organizing principle of infectious disease epidemiology is that the patterns of the occurrence of illness within and between populations are explainable by factors attributable to the host, agent, and environment. This is the so-called epidemiological trinity. In this talk I will discuss how epidemiological science has been enriched by increasingly embracing methods from evolutionary biology and ecology, and how realization of a modern pandemic science requires traditional boundaries between disciplines to be dissolved. First, I will illustrate how phylodynamic methods have provided a new view of old, unresolved questions in the epidemiology of HIV. From there I will talk about both the confounding and illuminating role of genetic diversity focusing on within-host diversity in chronic viral infections can act both as noise and as a type of epidemiological signal. These points will be further illustrated by consideration of recombination as a potential confounding variable in epidemiological studies. Finally, I will discuss two of our ongoing studies that illustrate this new kind of pandemic science: one that attempts to integrate multi-scale (intracellular and epidemiological) dynamics of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus in Turkey and Tajikistan with longitudinal field sampling of ticks from small mammals, ungulates, birds in regions with human cases of CCHFV. The second study looks to the future by using the DOE’s Earth System Model to project high-resolution climate change scenarios to predict the future landscape for mosquito borne diseases globally.