Micaela Martinez-Bakker gave two international departmental seminars last week in the United Kingdom. She spoke at the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Imperial College London and the Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, University of Glasgow. Martinez-Bakker discussed the work she has been doing to understand the transmission and persistence of polio virus.

Martinez-Bakker is a doctoral student in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan. Her advisor is Professor Pej Rohani.

At the Imperial College London, she presented “Using historical epidemics to unravel the transmission dynamics of polio” on Sept. 15, 2014. According to her abstract, she discussed the ecological factors governing the emergence and persistence of polio in the U.S. before vaccine roll out. By coupling rich, spatially replicated, longitudinal case data with mechanistic transmission models of polio, she addressed the mechanisms underpinning the striking spatial and temporal structure of polio epidemics. She then discussed how we can expand these models into the vaccine era to infer the population-level effects of the inactive polio vaccine (IPV) and the oral polio vaccine (OPV). She was invited by a faculty member at Imperial College London who also works on polio.

At the University of Glasgow, Martinez-Bakker presented “The role of demography, seasonality, and spatial structure in disease dynamics: unraveling the ecology of polio,” Sept. 17, 2014. According to her abstract, she discussed the ecological factors governing the perpetuation of infection across populations. By coupling long-term time series of demography and disease incidence with models of disease transmission, she demonstrated how we can elucidate infection history and unobserved transmission processes. She explored how the insights gained from this work can inform strategies for disease eradication. The primary focus of her work is poliovirus transmission in humans; however, the mechanisms and methods have broad application in population and disease ecology.

Her invitation from Glasgow came from a faculty member she’s collaborating with on a manuscript focused on how biological rhythms influence host-pathogen interactions. While in the U.K., she will be working on writing a paper with her collaborator from Glasgow.

Funding for both talks was provided by U-M Rackham Graduate School.