Tag Archives: thomas smith

Predicting hotspots for future flu outbreaks

This year’s unusually long and rocky flu season would be nothing compared to the pandemic that could occur if bird flu became highly contagious among humans, which is why UCLA researchers and their colleagues are creating new ways to predict where an outbreak could emerge.

“Using surveillance of influenza cases in humans and birds, we’ve come up with a technique to predict sites where these viruses could mix and generate a future pandemic,” said lead author Trevon Fuller, a UCLA postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability’s Center for Tropical Research. (more…)

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UCLA Professor Leads Effort to Protect Africa’s Rainforests from Ravages of Climate Change

UCLA professor Thomas B. Smith will head an international research project investigating the effects of climate change on biodiversity in Central Africa’s rainforests, under a $4.95 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

UCLA will receive $3 million through the NSF’s Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE) program, the agency announced this week. Smith, the director of UCLA’s Center for Tropical Research and a professor with joint appointments at the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and the department of ecology and evolutionary biology, will lead the team of U.S. and international researchers. (more…)

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Growing Threats to Biodiversity ‘Arks’

Many of the protected areas in tropical nations are struggling to sustain their biodiversity, according to a study by more than 200 scientists from around the world. The study, which will appear Thursday in the journal Nature, found that deforestation is advancing rapidly in these nations and most reserves are losing some or all of their surrounding forest.

Among the scientists participating in the study were lead author Professor William Laurance of James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, who is also a senior research fellow at UCLA’s Center for Tropical Research; and Thomas Smith, a professor at UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and director of UCLA’s Center for Tropical Research. (more…)

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West Nile Virus More Prevalent in Low-income Neighborhoods, Study Finds

Image credit: University of California

Low-income neighborhoods appear to be the most susceptible to West Nile virus, a mosquito-transmitted disease that is linked to more than 1,000 deaths since in the United States since 1999, according to new UCLA-lead research.

Using data on infected humans and mosquitoes from the West Nile virus hotspot of Orange County, Calif., from 2005-08, scientists found that per-capita income and other economic conditions were the single greatest predictor of occurrence, explaining 85-95 percent of the variation. While economic conditions have previously been linked to disease, the study is the first to use a rigorous statistical model.  (more…)

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