Research Interests

Viral Surveillance and Ecology

The past two decades have witnessed the emergence of many significant viral pathogens such as HIV, sin nombre hantavirus, nipah virus, avian influenza and SARS. Subsequent investigations revealed that in each of these cases, the viruses emerged from an animal reservoir. In fact, it has been estimated the 75% of all emerging diseases are zoonotic in nature. These studies highlight the importance of understanding viral diversity in animal and insect reservoirs and vectors. Our interest is in applying comprehensive and unbiased methods to proactively define the entire spectrum of viruses present in populations of rodents, bats, mosquitoes, and ticks. Of particular relevance is the recent identifications of Heartland virus and Bourbon virus, novel tick-borne viruses, in Missouri. In addition, animals in zoological parks and aquariums provide a unique opportunity to monitor viral diversity.