Maria Ana Diuk-Wasser PhD

Associate Professor (Adjunct) of Epidemiology (Microbial Diseases)

Research Interests

Disease ecology; Eco-epidemiology; Spatio-temporal risk modeling; Lyme disease; Babesiosis; Emerging zoonoses; Pathogen interactions; Tick-borne diseases; Dengue; West Nile virus;

Current Projects

  • A spatial risk map for Ixodes scapularis-borne Borrelia
  • Effects of West Nile virus vectors host feeding behavior on WNV transmission patterns
  • Integrating Earth observation and field data into a Lyme disease model to map and predict risks to biodiversity and human health
  • Birds as reservoirs of human pathogens
  • Leptospirosis in Latin America
  • The role of climate on dengue fever risk

Research Summary

Professor Diuk-Wasser is interested in modeling the environmental and ecological drivers of vector-borne and zoonotic diseases using intensive field and laboratory-derived data. Under the conceptual framework of landscape epidemiology and using the tools of geographic information systems, remote sensing and spatial statistics, she predicts human disease foci by modeling the distribution of pathogens, vectors and hosts. Within these areas of risk, she is currently focusing on environmental drivers of pathogen transmission dynamics, with the ultimate goal of generating spatio-temporal predictions of risk. Current areas of interest include generating a spatial risk map of Lyme disease in the United States, modeling West Nile virus (WNV) transmission in Connecticut and studying how climate, landscape and host diversity affect vector host-feeding behavior, in turn affecting transmission dynamics and pathogen genetic diversity. Her disease study systems are WNV, Lyme disease, malaria and dengue fever. Other interests include landscape ecology and genetics, animal behavior and conservation biology.

Extensive Research Description

Maria Diuk-Wasser is an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health. Her primary research interests include environmental and ecological drivers of vector-borne and zoonotic diseases as well as spatio-temporal predictions of risk. Among specified areas of risk, Dr. Diuk-Wasser focuses on environmental drivers of pathogen transmission dynamics. Her research includes generating a spatial risk map of Lyme disease in the United States, modeling West Nile virus (WNV) transmission in Connecticut and studying how climate, landscape and host diversity affect vector host-feeding behavior. Her disease study systems are WNV, Lyme disease, malaria and dengue fever. Other interests include landscape ecology and genetics, animal and human behavior and conservation biology.

Dr. Diuk-Wasser graduated from the University of Buenos Aires and received her Ph.D. in biology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She was awarded the UCLA International Studies and Overseas Programs Fellowship as well as the Brown-Coxe Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Yale School of Medicine. Dr. Diuk-Wasser is a reviewer for various biology and global health research journals, including the Journal of Theoretical Biology and Tropical Medicine & International Health. In 2010, Dr. Diuk-Wasser also worked with NIH/NIAID on the Special Emphasis Panel/Scientific Review Group. She currently teaches the course “Ecology and Epidemiology of Vector-borne and Zoonotic Diseases” at the Yale School of Public Health.


Selected Publications

  • Diuk-Wasser, MA, L Liu, T Steeves, T Lepore, K Dardick, C Folsom-O’Keefe, S Bent, S Usmani-Brown, S Telford, D Fish and PJ Krause. 2013. Monitoring human babesiosis emergence through vector surveillance, New England, USA. Emerging Infectious Diseases 20(2):225-231.
  • Dunn, JM, S Davis, A Stacey, A and MA Diuk-Wasser. 2013. A simple model for the establishment of tick-borne pathogens of Ixodes scapularis: A global sensitivity analysis of R0. J. of Theoretical Biology 335:213-221.
  • Pepin, KM, RJ Eisen, PS Mead, J Piesman, D Fish, AH Gatewood, AG Barbour, S Hamer, MA Diuk-Wasser. Geographic variation in the relationship between human Lyme disease incidence and the density of infected host-seeking Ixodes scapularis nymphs in the United States. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 86(6):1062-1071.
  • Diuk-Wasser, MA, A Gatewood Hoen, P Cislo, R Brinkerhoff, SA Hamer, M Rowland, R Cortinas,G Vourc’h, F Melton, GJ Hickling, JI Tsao, J Bunikis, AG Barbour, U Kitron, J Piesman, and D Fish. 2012. Human risk of infection with Borrelia burgdorferi, the Lyme disease agent, in eastern United States. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 86(2):320-327.
  • Brinkerhoff, RJ, CM Folsom-O’Keefe, K Tsao, and MA Diuk-Wasser. 2009. Do birds affect Lyme disease risk? Range expansion of the vector-borne pathogen Borrelia burgdorferi. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, doi:10.1890/090062
  • Little, E, R. Barrera, K. Seto and MA Diuk-Wasser. 2011. Co-occurrence patterns of the dengue vector Aedes aegypti and Aedes mediovitattus, a dengue competent mosquito in Puerto Rico. Ecohealth 8(3):365-375.
  • Simpson, JE, PJ Hurtado, J Medlock, G Molaei, TG Andreadis, AP Galvani and MA Diuk-Wasser. 2011. Vector host-feeding preferences drive transmission of multi-host pathogens: West Nile virus as a model system. Proc.Royal. Soc. B. 279:925-933. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2011.1282.
  • Gatewood, A, K Liebman, G Vourc’h, J Bunikis, S Hamer, R Cortinas, F Melton, P Cislo, U Kitron, J Tsao, AG Barbour, D Fish and MA Diuk-Wasser. 2009. Climate and tick seasonality predict Borrelia burgdorferi genotype distribution. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 75: 2476-2483.

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