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.

Affiliated Faculty

Rebecca Grais

Rebecca has been the Director of Research at Epicentre since January 2015, an epidemiology satellite that conducts research projects and trainings in support of  Médecins Sans Frontières' (MSF's) goal of aiding medically in populations affected by conflict, epidemics, disasters, or with poor health care. Rebecca's research primarily focuses on infectious disease prevention, emerging infections in Sub-Saharan Africa, and tropical diseases. She is particularly interested in Ebola virus disease dynamics and epidemiology, and has an extensive publication list on the topic. She has also focused on studying the effectiveness of public health interventions and efficacy trials of vaccines and therapeutic agents within populations.

Postdoctoral fellows

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.

Matt Hitchings

Matt Hitchings is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Biology, working on design and analysis of randomized trials for the control of infectious diseases. He completed his Doctor of Science at the Harvard School of Public Health, where he used dynamic disease models to understand how trial design and setting affects the likely success of vaccine trials during outbreaks. He collaborates with colleagues from MSF Epicentre on various trials conducted in outbreak and non-outbreak settings.


Luke Trimmer-Smith

After receiving his Bachelor of Science in General Biology from the University of West Florida in 2004, Luke entered the workforce in quality assurance and quality control for a dairy processing plant followed by quality management for a chemical supply and logistics company. He then spent several years in environmental management and services in state government with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Division of Marine Fisheries. Ultimately, he returned to graduate school to follow his desire to study infectious diseases. By challenging zebrafish with Spring Viremia of Carp Virus (SVCV), Luke developed a fish-virus model system to identify time to and quantity of viral shedding and detect altered behavior of infected fish. He received his PhD in Zoology in 2019 and promptly became a Postdoctoral Associate with the Cummings Lab to help establish a wet lab to study dengue prevalence using virus neutralization assays. 

Ben Toh

Ben is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Biology. He completed his Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Florida in Ecology and prior to that gained over five years of experience in coastal and marine ecology. He loves working with data and aspires to use big data, statistics, and machine learning to solve environmental and epidemiological concerns.

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.

Diana Araya Rojas

Diana is a 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. 

Veronique Etienne

Veronique (Nique) Etienne is a PhD student in the Department of Biology at the University of Florida under the advisement of Dr. Cummings. She received her Bachelor's and Master of Science in Biology/Biological Sciences in 2011 and 2014, respectively, and has extensive experience working as a laboratory technician at RAPiD Genomics, where she worked on mRNA and DNA extraction among other activities. Currently, she is working on her thesis defense on experiments involving mosquito salivary proteins.


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.


Luis Ponce

Luis is a research assistant in the Cummings group. He graduated from Princeton University in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Before coming to UF, he worked as a research assistant at a disease mathematical modeling group at Hokkaido University in Japan. His interests include statistical and mathematical modeling of infectious diseases, social and behavioral patterns as they relate to disease dynamics, and more. He also assists with administrative work.

Former Members

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.

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.

Kyra Grantz

Kyra was a research assistant in the Cummings group. 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. She is now a PhD student in Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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.  

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.

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).

Alexander Kirpich

Alexander is from Minsk, Belarus and received his undergraduate degree in mathematics (2006) from Belarusian State University followed by his master’s degree in statistics (2011) and Ph.D. in biostatistics (2015) both from the University of Florida.  Alexander’s work under the supervision of Dr. Derek Cummings was focused on HIV modeling in India. Currently Alexander Kirpich is an assistant professor at the Department of Population Health Sciences in the School of Public Health at Georgia State University. 

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.

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.

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.

Nayeem Chowdhury

Nayeem is a Research Specialist in the Department of Biology, with an interest in exploring antigenic variation amongst dengue viruses. He received his Masters in Medical Sciences from the University of South Florida. Nayeem received his Bachelors of Science in Bioengineering from the University of Maryland – College Park. At his job site at the National Institutes of Health, Nayeem runs plaque neutralization assays on a multitude of dengue virus strains under the direction of Dr. Cummings, Dr. Katzelnick, and Dr. Whitehead.


Ana Coello Escoto

Ana is a research consultant for the Cummings group. Prior to this, she was a Senior Research Specialist working on the characterization of antigenic differences in dengue viruses for the University of Florida at the NIAID, NIH in Bethesda, MD. Her previous work includes elucidation of critical markers involved in the Hypothalamic Pituitary and Adrenal (HPA) axis in relation to stress at NICHD, NIH.

Brooke Borgert

Brooke is the lab manager of the UF IDDynamics group. She 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, biosecurity, and public health. Further, she will provide administrative support to the IDDynamics group. 

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.