Robert C. Anderson Memorial Award 2013
Daniel Streicker, a doctoral graduate in ecology, made extraordinarily important contributions to the field of infectious diseases while studying at UGA, where he continues his fine work as a postdoctoral researcher. Streicker’s research focuses on viruses that “jump” between species, such as influenza and HIV. He led a team of scientists to measure the extent of cross-species transmission in host communities, using a dataset of rabies virus sequences from over 20 bat species. His studies provided the first empirical evidence that even rapidly evolving viruses are constrained to more easily infect closely related host species–work that could help predict which viruses are most likely to jump between species. Streicker’s follow-up work explained that the extent of evolutionary changes needed to infect new host species predicts how quickly viruses establish a permanent foothold in the new host species. Finally, he identified potentially counterproductive effects of bat culls on rabies transmission in Peru, which may have policy implications for rabies control programs throughout Latin America.