Daniel J. Becker
Assistant Professor of Biology
Ph.D., University of Georgia
B.A., Bard College
Research in my lab broadly aims to identify the ecological and evolutionary factors that determine infectious disease dynamics in reservoir hosts and cross-species transmission. We combine a range of approaches, including spatiotemporal field studies, theoretical models, immunology, machine learning, and phylogenetic comparative methods, to better understand how pathogens spread within and between wildlife populations and species and how environmental change will alter infection dynamics.
Much of our research focuses on zoonotic pathogens in bats and birds as tractable and relevant study systems, but we are fundamentally driven by questions and often embrace entirely computational approaches. Some current topics of interest include (1) how anthropogenic diet shifts and agricultural land use affect pathogen transmission, (2) how migration interacts with urbanization to shape disease risk, (3) identifying key seasonal and environmental drivers of immunity, and (4) integrating data on host competence into predictive models of reservoir species. These themes are united around using models to generate field-testable predictions. Ultimately, our work aims to develop fundamental insights into the ecology and evolution of infectious disease while also better guiding surveillance and management.