Hello and welcome!

Few questions in infectious disease research are more critical to public health than identifying how and why pathogens cross species barriers and cause outbreaks. We study how infectious diseases jump, hop and spillover from animal reservoirs into novel hosts. These events are occurring at an unprecedented pace due to human activity. Humans exert strong selective pressures on other species, a process that creates new niches for pathogens to emerge and spread. Our lab at the University of Massachusetts Boston studies fast-evolving pathogens with a focus on viruses because they offer a model system for understanding the natural and anthropogenic drivers of disease emergence and spillover.

Field studies of animals are a critical starting point for our work, ranging from international ‘hot’ zones to local field sites where we study the natural history of pathogens. We use field data to study the dynamics of spillover transmission through bioinformatic and statistical modelling approaches. We also use experimental studies to characterise the potential for onward transmission to novel hosts, and explore mechanisms of immunity in response to infection. Example projects include understanding the role of wild birds, poultry and food supply chains in the global spread of influenza A virus, predicting pathogen spillover between humans and commensal rodents in growing cities, and tracking SARS-CoV-2 in domestic and wild animals during the pandemic.

The Hill Lab offers a range of opportunities for local and international research, at the intersection of disease ecology and evolution, wildlife conservation and global health. We use methods that cross disciplines, the more anti-disciplinary the better. We seek to be scientists who solve pressing real-world challenges. We believe that action can only be built on the sturdy foundations of scientific truth. We are committed to supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion and inquires from prospective students and postdocs, particularly under-represented minorities, are always welcome. Our lab is a safe-space for the LGBTQ+ community.

        

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Tel: 617-287-6675
E-mail: nichola.hill@umb.edu
Twitter: nichola_hilltop
Department: https://www.umb.edu/nichola_hill_1
https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3213-6693ORCID iD icon