HOT OFF THE PRESS...
Malaria parasites - infecting red blood cells
Recently, a paper published in Science, co-authored by Amir Siraj, Mauricio Santos-Vega, Menno J. Bouma, D. Yadeta, D. Ruiz Carrascal, and Mercedes Pascual, entitled, Altitudinal Changes in Malaria Incidence in Highlands of Ethiopia and Colombia, has received much attention in the news, both locally and internationally. Their research suggests that warmer temperatures cause malaria to spread to higher altitudes. For more on this check out the most recent article in the BBC.
Long-lasting Transition Toward Sustainable Elimination of Desert Malaria Under Irrigation Development (Download PDF)
A recent paper by Andres Baeza and his collegues: Menno J. Bouma, Ramesh C. Dhiman, Edward B. Baskerville, Pietro Ceccato, Rajpal Singh Yadav, and Mercedes Pascual, has received much attention from the media.
In arid areas, people living in the proximity of irrigation infrastructure are potentially exposed to a higher risk of malaria due to changes in ecohydrological conditions that lead to increased vector abundance. However, irrigation provides a pathway to economic prosperity that, over longer time scales, is expected to counteract these negative effects. A better understanding of this transition between increased malaria risk and regional elimination... (Read More)
To learn more about more about Andres and his co-authors' research on irrigation and malaria in northwest India, check out these media sources: ANI News, Yahoo News India, MedIndia, Business Standard, Think India Foundation and News Medical.
Climate modeling helps to predict malaria epidemics
Substantial attention has been given to the recent publication, Malaria Epidemics and the Influence of the Tropical South Atlantic on the Indian Monsoon, by Mercedes Pascual and her collegues: Benjamin Cash, Xavier Rodo, J. Ballester, Andres Baeza, Menno Bouma and Ramesh Dhiman. Their newest collaboration has given birth to significant research as shown in their work published in Nature Climate Change. Mercedes and her collegues have developed a model that allows malaria epidemics in arid northwest India to be predicted four months in advance, helping authorities prepare for them much earlier than before.
"One main motivation to look at the oceans and not at regional rainfall itself is to take advantage of a longer lead time," Pascual says.
Warming Climate Boosts Malaria in Kenya
In their most recent collaboration, "Epidemic malaria and warmer temperatures in recent decades in an East African highland," published by the Proceedings of the Royal Socieity B scientific journal, HHMI investigator Mercedes Pascual and her colleagues, David Alonso and Menno J. Bouma, decide to look at the relationship between warming and malaria in the highlands of Kenya.
"When you go up in altitude, temperature decreases," Pascual says. "We know that climate may be playing a limiting role [in the spread of malaria]."
Pascual's approach to problems such as these is to build a mathematical model. Her models are already changing the way scientists think about how climate variability influences the dynamics of infectious diseases. One of the long-term goals of her research is to build computational tools that will help scientists identify when epidemics will occur, thereby enabling them to alert public health agencies. Those agencies, in turn, would be in a better position to implement prevention measures and meet the increased demand for lifesaving medicine and supplies when an epidemic occurs. (Read more)
Google PageRank inspired coextinction research
Former postdoctoral fellow Stefano Allesina and Professor Mercedes Pascual created an algorithm inspired by Google’s PageRank, which rates Web pages based on pages that link to them. They applied their algorithm to a different kind of web – food webs. Their research was published in the online journal PLoS Computational Biology in September 2009.
The algorithm uses the links between species in a food web, which describes the complex eating relationships between species, to determine the relative importance of various species. Their research forms the basis for a more comprehensive treatment of extinction risk in ecosystems. Allesina just moved from a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Center for Ecological Synthesis, University of California at Santa Barbara, to an assistant professorship at the University of Chicago. Prior to that, he was a postdoctoral fellow in Pascual's lab. See New York Times and BBC articles.
Food-web Theme Issue Editor
Professor Mercedes Pascual was among four scientists who compiled and edited papers for a theme issue of the June 27, 2009 journal, Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B, titled, "Food-web assembly and collapse: mathematical models and implications for conservation."
Better Than Tea Leaves