Core Faculty

Derek Cummings

Derek is an infectious disease epidemiologist engaged in theoretical and field studies of disease transmission. The goal of his research is to understand the temporal and spatial dynamics of the spread of infectious diseases in order to inform interventions to control their spread. He is specifically interested in the dynamics of dengue, influenza, measles, and chikungunya. He currently leads field studies of influenza in the US and China, and dengue and chikungunya in Thailand and India. He currently holds appointments at University of Florida in the Department of Biology and Emerging Pathogens Institute, at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and at University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

Tom Hladish

Tom is a Research Scientist at the University of Florida in the Department of Biology and the Emerging Pathogens Institute. He studies the temporal and spatial dynamics of infectious diseases, with a recent focus on using models to understand why dengue has proven difficult to control, and how we should best use interventions that may only be partially effective. He has developed several software projects to facilitate research in computational epidemiology, including AbcSmc, a toolkit for parallelized Bayesian parameter inference of stochastic models, and EpiFire, a contact network-based library for constructing populations and simulating disease transmission. Tom is also highly interested in education, particularly in helping the public health community understand how to use and interpret mathematical models of disease dynamics.  Since 2009 he has been an instructor for SISMID, and has taught courses in Ghana, Cuba, and Peru on various subjects in epidemiology and software engineering.

Postdoctoral fellows

Rebecca Borchering

Rebecca is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Biology investigating spatial surveillance systems. She recently completed her PhD in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Florida, where she studied seasonal dynamics of rabies virus in wild carnivore populations.  In collaboration with researchers at the CDC and USDA, Rebecca investigated spatiotemporal trends in rabies case data for raccoons, skunks and foxes, in the northeast US, using mechanistic seasonal models and time-series analysis.  She also used stochastic spatial processes to investigate the influence of changes in resource landscape for potential spread of disease among consumers. Rebecca serves as junior faculty member for the International Clinics on Infectious Disease Data (ICI3D) Program.

Leah Katzelnick

Leah received her PhD from the University of Cambridge and the National Institutes of Health for her work on antigenic variaiton among dengue viruses, supervised by Prof. Derek Smith and Dr. Stephen Whitehead.  She is now a post-doctoral scholar at the University of California, Berkeley working with Prof. Eva Harris to study natural dengue infections in Nicaragua.  She continues to collaborate with Prof. Smith and Dr. Whitehead as a reserach assistant to Prof. Derek Cummings at the University of Florida studying the antigenic evolution of dengue viruses in Thailand.

Henrik Salje

Henrik is a postdoctoral fellow in the department of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He is currently working as a visiting researcher in Simon Cauchemez's mathematical modeling unit at the Pasteur Institute in Paris. His interests lie in the spatio-temporal dispersal dynamics of infectious diseases, including the impact of immunity on the distribution of dengue cases in urban and rural settings. Prior to starting his PhD, he worked in the investment banking sector in London, UK, using modeling approaches to advise corporate and governmental organizations on financial and operational matters. He has a Bachelors and Masters degree in Biochemistry from Oxford University, a Masters degree in Biostatistics from Johns Hopkins University and a PhD in Epidemiology, also from Johns Hopkins.

Bingyi Yang

Bingyi is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Biology working with Prof. Derek Cummings on the development of multi‐scale, modular models for vector‐borne disease. She received her PhD from School of Public Health in The University of Hong Kong under the supervision of Prof. Benjamin Cowling and Prof. Gabriel Leung. Her work focused on the transmission dynamics of hand, foot and mouth disease in China, including characterzing the foundamental epidemiological profile and investing the potential spread of the disease. She also collaborated with China CDC on the hand, foot and mouth disease program. 

Alexander Kirpich

Alexander Sergeyevich Kirpich was born in Minsk, Belarus in 1984. He graduated from the Belarusian State University, Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics in 2006 with a degree in theoretical mathematics. He moved to the United States shortly thereafter. Alexander worked in New York City, NY in the IT industry before moving to Florida to pursue his Ph.D. Alexander obtained his Master of Statistics degree from the University of Florida in 2011 and Ph.D. degree in biostatistics in 2015. Alexander's dissertation was focused on dynamic modeling of cholera transmission in Haiti using MCMC. During the course of his studies at the University of Florida Alexander served as a teaching and research assistant as well as a course instructor. Alexander's postdoctoral experience at UF included work primarily motivated by metabolomics data with a focus on variable selection for big data, data preprocessing, and flux analysis. Currently Alexander is working on HIV modeling in India under the supervision of Dr. Derek Cummings. Even though Alexander's dissertation and most of the work was primarily focused on infectious disease modeling, his interests are broad. He plans to pursue his carrier as a statistician and data scientist and to contribute to various fields of scientific knowledge.

Bernardo Garcia Carreras

Bernardo is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Biology, currently interested in the spatio-temporal dynamics of dengue. He completed his Ph.D. at Imperial College London. There, he used theoretical models and data analyses to study the effects of changes in different statistical descriptions of the environment, as well as the impact of environmental "spectral colour", on animal population dynamics. He then joined the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, a UK executive agency, to work on fisheries-related questions. Prior to joining the University of Florida, he returned to Imperial College London to contribute to a project linking temperature dependence of individual-level metabolism and physiology with population-level responses, with a particular focus on phytoplankton.

Diana Rojas Alvarez

Diana is a Medical Doctor from Colombia and received her PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Florida for her work on epidemiology and transmission dynamics of arbovirus in Latin America. She is currently a Postdoctoral associate in the department of Biostatistics at University of Florida working with Prof. Ira M. Longini. Her research focuses on design and analysis of epidemiological studies to understand the transmission dynamics of arboviruses and other emerging pathogens. Further, she assesses the impact of prevention and control strategies for infectious diseases of global importance. She also collaborates with Prof. Derek Cummings in the department of Biology studying the dynamics of dengue maternal antibodies in infants and their impact on dengue severity.

Current Students

Angkana (Hat) Huang

Hat is a first-year PhD student in Zoology-Biology at University of Florida under the advisement of Dr. Cummings, and a data analyst in the Department of Virology at the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences (AFRIMS) in Bangkok, Thailand. Her passion resides in the evolutionary dynamics of infectious disease in relation to human intervention attempts. She holds a Bachelors degree in Industrial Design from Chulalongkorn University and a Masters degree in Computer Science from Mahidol University.

Silvio Martinez

Silvio is a third-year undergraduate student at the University of Florida studying Public Health with a minor in Statistics on the Pre-Med track. He became interested in infectious disease research after studying abroad in Cusco and learning about epidemiology through Dr. Hladish. Silvio is currently working on an independent research project alongside Dr. Hladish funded by the University Scholars Program. He is analyzing dengue transmission and identifying possible risk factors for health inequalities in rural and urban areas of Yucatan, Mexico. His research interests are in applying quantitative methods to analyzing environmental and social factors leading to health disparities, and improving healthcare policy and delivery addressing diverse populations and neglected disease populations (e.g. Sickle Cell patients).

Diana Araya Rojas

Diana is a first-year Ph.D. student in Entomology at the University of Florida under the advisement of Dr. Alto, Dr. Burckett-Cadena, Dr. Cummings, and Dr. Mathias. She is working with mosquito marking techniques that may be coupled with a self-marking trap, which aims to track the movement of vector mosquitoes. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tropical Biology, a Bachelor's in Clinical Microbiology, and a Master's degree in Epidemiology from the University of Costa Rica. 

Staff

Kyra Grantz

Kyra is a research assistant in the Cummings group, currently based at Epicentre in Paris, France. Her interests include modeling fine-scale spatial and temporal transmission of several pathogens, including influenza, Zika, dengue, and leprosy, as well as assessing the effectiveness of intervention strategies through both theoretical and field-based research. Kyra graduated from the University of Chicago in 2015 with a BA in biology and molecular engineering, where her research focused on bacterial mutagenesis and evolution. She also provides administrative assistance to the IDDynamics group.

Brooke Borgert

Brooke is lab manager of the UF IDDynamics group. She recently received her MS from Georgetown University in Biohazardous Threat Agents and Emerging Infectious Diseases. Prior to her graduate study, Brooke worked as a clinical research assistant in oncology clinical trials at the Miami Cancer Institute. Brooke received her BS from UF in 2015 and completed an honors thesis analyzing host competence in Japanese encephalitis virus. Altogether, her research interests lie in mapping the interactions between geospatial, social, and ecological components that drive the spread of infectious diseases and how these dynamics inform biosurveillance and biosecurity. Further, she will provide administrative support to the IDDynamics group. 

Susan Rattigan

Susan is a research assistant with the Cummings group. She graduated in 2018 from NYU Gallatin with an Individualized Major in The Intersection of Medicine, Disease, and Culture. Prior to coming to UF, she worked on a maternal immunization literature review with Pfizer and as a member of the Infection Prevention team at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford, CT. Her research interests are broad, including hospital acquired infection, vaccine development and use, and infectious disease evolution, and much more. She also assists with administrative work.

 

Carlos Moreno

Carlos Moreno is a third year undergraduate student majoring in Biochemistry, and Applied Physiology and Kinesiology. Carlos joined the lab in January 2016. He currently works on analyzing the small-scale transmission dynamics of dengue virus in the city of San Juan, Puerto Rico, by using a spatiotemporal clustering analysis. 

Greg King

Greg is a fourth year undergraduate student studying political science on the pre-med track with minors in zoology and health disparities in society. His current research focuses on dengue and Zika transmission and interactions in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Former Members

Talia Quandelacy

Talia was a post-doctoral research fellow in the epidemic modeling unit at CDC's Dengue Branch, working with Michael Johansson and co-advised by Dr. Cummings. Her interests included understanding microscale transmission dynamics and control strategies of influenza, dengue and zika and using historical data to understand regional and global spatiotemporal dynamics. She completed her PhD in Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and has an ScM in Infectious Disease Epidemiology from the TH Chan Harvard School of Public Health, and an MPH in Global Health from Emory Rollins School of Public Health. She's worked on febrile and vector-borne illness surveillance and global health policy at DoD-GEIS, and arenavirus and hantavirus epidemiology/ecology at CDC/Emory University.  

Stephanie Cinkovich

Stephanie completed her PhD in Zoology in 2018, during which research interests included how perturbations to communities of animal reservoirs for human disease via anthropogenic factors and vector interactions affect the risk of zoonotic spillover. Her dissertation included piloting a field study in Bangladesh that investigated the role of hosts in the transmission of Japanese encephalitis virus, what is – and is not – known about subclinical Ebola virus infections, and the environmental factors associated with Everglades virus circulation. Her previous work has included a range of bacterial tick-borne related disease topics focused on rodent and bat populations in the western United States. She has a BS in Biology from University of Arkansas and a MS in Biology from Northern Arizona University.

Jacob Ball

Jake completed his PhD in the Department of Epidemiology at UF in 2018, where he was funded by a Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship from the US Department of Defense. Now that he has completed his PhD, Jake works as a civilian epidemiologist for Army Public Health Center in the Clinical Public Health & Epidemiology Portfolio, focusing on infectious disease surveillance and control efforts in military populations. Jake’s interests are in using models to provide decision support tools for clinicians and public health policymakers.