The Research Exchange Program is closed and will no longer be accepting new applications.

What is a research exchange?  This is a cornerstone of our program.  Short term research exchanges (each <3 weeks in duration) will take place throughout the year. They are designed to allow researchers the opportunity to spend time working intensively away from their home institutions, within a group with complementary expertise, to pursue various RCN goals. Research exchanges can take on myriad forms; below are two examples. They need not directly address questions posed in our case studies.

K. Paaijmans
P. chabaudi sporozoites emerge; K. Paaijmans

A research exchange might involve a theoretician visiting an empiricist’s lab to learn more about how data are collected, integrate that knowledge into models they’ve already developed, run in silico experiments to test competing hypotheses, and jointly design the next experiment to be undertaken by the empiricist.

Or a research exchange might involve 2 empiricists bringing new datasets from different systems to a theoretician’s lab to provide a reality check for models, jointly test the fit between model and data and answer new questions about biology across systems.

Am I eligible?  Awards will be preferentially given to PhD students and postdoctoral research associates; however, all applications are welcome. We are keen on supporting a) trainees and b) the launch of new collaborative projects that are not otherwise funded. We will support up to 8 research exchanges per year. Travel and subsistence will be covered for awarded exchanges. A report on research findings will be due after the exchange is completed.

How do I apply? The Research Exchange Program is closed and will no longer be accepting applications.

1) your current CV
2) Letter of Support from your host collaborator
3) Research Exchange Proposal to include: a) description of the proposed research b) details of why you are interested in collaborating with your proposed host c) a timeline for the project that justifies the duration of the exchange, and d) an estimated budget.
Budget guidelines: economy travel to/from site of collaboration, lodging and subsistence. The total budget should be within $2,500-3,000 USD depending on the distance of travel required. (The proposal should not exceed 1 page in length).

*Please note exchanges between international labs cannot be funded. Funding is available for US-based persons (of any nationality) to go anywhere, and we can fund people based outside the US (of any nationality) to come to the US.

Examples of Awarded Research Exchanges:
Nina Wale, Penn State University. Wale, an empiricist, collaborated with a theoretical evolutionary ecologist at the University of Michigan. They examined the determinants of parasite population dynamics and how parasites interact with the host immune response.  A number of hypotheses about the underlying causes of malaria infection dynamics have emerged from their modeling work and they are designing experiments to test them. They hope to continue using theory and data in combination to broaden our understanding of how parasite traits and the host immune response interact to create the characteristic dynamics of malaria infections.

Clay Cressler, Queen’s University. Cressler’s proposal stemmed from a theory paper he published in 2014 showing that increased host resources could either increase or decrease parasite fitness, depending on the structure of the resource-immune-parasite interaction. His exchange more broadly considered how diet links within-host and between-host scales to shape both host immune phenotype and parasite exploitation. He collaborated with Dr. Graham, an empiricist at Princeton University.

Chris Illingworth, University of Cambridge. Chris spent his exchange at Duke University with Dr. Katia Koelle’s group. He worked on the development of models for evaluating selection during the course of an infection of the influenza virus. He was able to develop and apply techniques for evaluating within-host selection to data collected via a large project at Duke conducted through the medical school.

Johanna Ohm, Penn State University. The exchange took place with Dr. Nelson’s group at Queen’s University. With individual-level data for a group of anopheline mosquitoes in hand, Ohm and Nelson explored whether the individual-level data she had could be valuable in identifying the drivers of population growth or decline observed in mosquito populations. As an empiricist, with little experience in the modeling realm, Ohm learned how to construct Leslie matrix models. They then translated life history data into a projection of population growth rate for mosquitoes with different life history patterns.

Lauren Childs, Harvard School of Public Health. Childs collaborated with Dr. Bousema at Radboud University. Childs has developed a stochastic model of diversity generation of P. falciparum in the mosquito host including variation in both the dynamics and genetic composition of the parasites. She chose to work with Dr. Bousema at Radboud University as he studies the epidemiology and transmission of P. falciparum malaria and is beginning experiments to understand how the genetic composition of malaria parasites are altered during superinfection within the mosquito. Being involved in Bousema’s ongoing experiments and designing future experiments is critical for appropriate parameterization and validation of her model. 

Ana Ribeiro Gomez, University of California, Los Angeles. Gomez has been constructing a model that simulates individual titer dynamics for leptospirosis infection in the California Sea Lion, with incidence proportional to stranding numbers. In order to adequately parameterize the model, it was important to expand her understanding of wildlife serology and chose to work with the Graham lab at Princeton University. She was particularly interested in IgM and IgG concentration progression to develop ways of discriminating very recent exposure from older exposure and first exposure from boosting.

Olivier Restif, University of Cambridge. Restif, a theorist, will be working with Dr. Eric T Harvill an empiricist at Penn State University. Restif’s main objective is to develop quantitative tools for the within and between host dynamics of Bordaetella bronchiseptica. His work is motivated by a lack of quantitative information on the population dynamics of bacteria within and between hosts. Understanding how antibiotics and vaccine-derived immunity affects the survival, growth and spread of bacteria is a pre-requisite to assess the selective pressures they impose on bacterial evolution.

Kezia Manlove, Penn State University. Manlove worked with Drs. Pej Rohani and Andreas Handel at the University of Georgia to develop a cross-scale model for transmission of a respiratory Mycoplase. Her exchange sought to gain theoretical insights from a PDE model about how within-host processes shape pathogen persistence and prevalence at the population level. Manlove’s research focuses on the interface of theoretical disease ecology and wildlife conservation, thereby bringing an applied science perspective to her collaborators work on developing and interrogating dynamical systems.

Senay Yitbarek, University of Michigan. Yitbarek will be working with Dr. Mike Boots at the University of California, Berkeley. Yitbarek studies the role of spatial structure and disease dynamics within agricultural ecosystems. His exchange seeks to develop a theoretical framework that considers co-infection dynamics within spatially structured host populations. He hopes to gain theoretical skills in adaptive dynamics and apply these insights into experimental model and non-model systems. 

Sarah Helman, University of California, Los Angeles. Helman will be working at the Hollings Marine Laboratory in South Carolina. Helman’s work focuses on understanding the ecology of infectious diseases in cross-scale environments. Her current research focuses on the unknown role of terrestrial mainland species in maintaining the bacteria Leptospira interrogans within a multi-host community along the California coast. The goal of her exchange is to master the techniques in pathogenic Leptospira PCR testing protocols.

Nick Fountain-Jones, University of Minnesota. Fountain-Jones will be conducting his exchange with Dr. Roman Biek at the University of Glasgow. The purpose of his exchange is to merge community and evolutionary ecological analytical techniques to better understand infectious disease dynamics in wildlife. Specifically, Fountain-Jones will concentrate on the analysis of large host and pathogen (feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)) genomic datasets collected from cougar (Puma concolour), from locations across the U.S. to better understand how host/pathogen dynamics are impacted by landscape and wildlife management. 

Jennifer Doyle, Duquesne University. Doyle will be working with Dr. Nadia Roan at the University of California, San Francisco. At UCSF Doyle hopes to learn the Thioflavin T binding assay for amyloid fibril formation and the basics for culturing TZM-bl cells and their use in testing for HIV infectivity. In turn, Doyle will provide expertise in the molecular cloning, recombinant protein production, and evolutionary theory. 

Lindsay Beck-Johnson, Colorado State University. Beck-Johnson will be collaborating with Dr. Nicole Mideo at University of Toronto. The research exchange aims to combine two established, data-driven models to address how transmission investment by the parasite malaria within the vertebrate host (mosquito) is affected by the dynamics of the mosquito population. Combining the models will allow Beck-Johnson to explore how realistic variation, both short-term and seasonal, in mosquito feeding pressure effects the malaria transmission investment within the vertebrate host.

Alex Kerr, University of Guam. Kerr will be collaborating with Dr. C. Drew Harvell at Cornell University. Kerr hopes to tap into Dr. Harvell’s broader expertise in the ecology and modeling of marine disease in order to develop an epidemiological theory tailored to clonal and colonial host taxa. He will investigate and generate quantitative expectations for a) the probability of infection of a colony in the face of the vast variation in colony morphology, b) the effect of colony morphology on rates of intra-colonial disease progression and the probability of colony mortality, and c) how intra-colonial disease dynamics influence disease transmission through populations and ecological communities.

Erin Gorsich, Oregon State University. Gorsich will be collaborating with Dr. Maarten Schrama, an experimental community ecologist at the University of Leiden. Gorsich has developed a stage-structured, delayed differential equation model that reflects the details of the mosquito life cycle dependent on anthropogenic pressures and temperature. The research exchange will allow her to work with Dr. Schrama who is currently conducting research on the consequences of temperature and anthropogenic pressures on mosquito survival and development rates. The collaboration will provide insight on experimental techniques that inform parameter estimates and model structure. 

Katherine Walter, Yale University. Walter’s exchange will be with Ben Adams, a theoretician at University of Bath. Walter works on the spirochetal agent of Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, the most significant vector-borne pathogen in the US. Walter hopes to learn how to specify dynamic eco-epidemic models and analyze them using mathematical and numerical models.