Robert L. Richards
Blending computational and field approaches to study the community ecology of infectious diseasesLearn more!
Community ecology of infectious diseases
I'm currently a postdoc in the Dallas and Elderd labs at Louisiana State University where I'm using the COVID-19 pandemic to try to measure the benefits of model complexity for understanding epidemic disease spread at different points in an epidemic.
I recently got my PhD at the University of Georgia's Odum School of Ecology working with John Drake and Vanessa Ezenwa.
I combine field data with quantitative methods ranging from mathematical transmission models to machine learning algorithms to ask questions about the population and community ecology of infectious diseases. My PhD work focused on the role of predators in driving prevalences, intensities, and diversities of macroparasites of mammals. This work ranged from the experimental manipulation of parasites of rodents using a long-term predator exclusion experiment at the Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center to a study of the macro-ecology of predator-parasite interactions using the Global Mammal Parasite Database. Side projects largely involve developing and implementing computational methods to understand spatio-temporal heterogeneities in disease transmission, ranging from macroparasites of ungulates on the National Bison Range to Guinnea worm (Dracunculus medinensis) in domestic dog populations in Chad.
One of my main professional passions is teaching and while I'm taking a short break from it at the moment I hope to return to a primarily teaching focused position in the near future. I especially enjoy using interactive problem-based pedagogy to help students learn ecological/biological concepts and/or statistical/data science skills.