Jo provides an overview of their work in a filmed public lecture to Brighton and Sussex Medico-Chirurgical Society: ‘From parasites to planetary health: research and interventions bridging medical acarology, public health and conservation biology’ [https://vimeo.com/334889141].
2022 Improving food security and protecting rainforest biodiversity and carbon stocks in indigenous communities recovering from COVID-19 in Papua New Guinea (PNG)
Co-Investigator and Research Fellow. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused economic slow-down in PNG, and a resultant increase in land clearance for (primarily) subsistence agriculture as communities seek to consolidate traditional forms of resilience in the face of economic uncertainty in the formal money economy. This is integrated intervention research to improve agricultural practices in indigenous communities (SDG 1 No Poverty and SDG 2 Zero Hunger) with implications for nutrition and health (SDG 3 Good Health and Well-Being), which will in turn help reduce subsistence-based clearance of highly biodiverse rainforests (SDG 15 Life on Land) which are significant carbon stocks (SDG 13 Climate Action).
2021 Mapping COVID-19 impacts on Papua New Guinea conservation and building a collaboration between ecology, arts, and the humanities to help preserve forests and indigenous land rights
Jo is a Co-Investigator and Research Fellow on this GCRF funded International Development Challenge Fund project. Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a global centre for ecological and cultural diversity. This cross-school interdisciplinary project is (1) evaluating COVID-19 impacts on PNG biodiversity conservation, (2) supporting three indigenous conservation communities with practical COVID-19 advice and aid, and (3) developing a PNG wide action plan to sustain conservation through the pandemic. Pump-priming work will also expand our existing international partnership to include Arts and Humanities researchers from Sussex and PNG to strengthen conservation and indigenous land rights.
2020-22 Epidemic modelling and statistical support for policy: sub-populations, forecasting, and long-term planning
Jo is a Co-Investigator on this project, which is reporting directly to SAGE (the UK government scientific group advising state policy on COVID-19). Epidemic dynamics, particularly in the presence of changing control policies, will shift the dominant modes of transmission and hence the distribution of disease. We are developing models to integrate the diverse but often noisy and incomplete datasets available, providing real-time policy support together with quantification of uncertainty. We are addressing three particular challenges. (1) Understanding spread in closely connected sub-populations in which there are close, repeated contacts capable of spreading disease such as households, hospitals, prisons, and care homes. Data from these contexts allow epidemiological parameters relating to infection risk conditional on contact to be identified in statistical work, and they are also important foci for policies. (2) Making short- and medium-term predictions of the epidemic trajectory and healthcare demand with appropriate uncertainty quantification. (3) Modelling long-term prospects for the epidemic, including the likelihood of eventual endemicity, the consequences of different virological assumptions about SARS-CoV-2, and how the different scenarios in this context will interact with long-term societal and health consequences of the pandemic. [Funder: UK Research and Innovation].
2019-22 Integrating conservation and health in Papua New Guinea’s vulnerable rainforests
Jo is a Co-I and Research Fellow on this Darwin Initiative project which aims to protect highly diverse forests in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and improve their inhabitants’ quality of life. Using conservation interventions, research, and capacity building it is: (i) enabling expansion of indigenous rainforest conservation through community health provision (ii) spreading awareness of the benefits of intact forests (iii) researching both the relationships between forest integrity and health in PNG, and the efficacy of integration of health services into forest conservation across the tropics, and (iv) training students and staff in research and conservation. [Funder: Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs].
2017-22 Surfaces: an interdisciplinary project to understand and enhance health in the vulnerable rainforests of Papua New Guinea (PNG) (UK; Papua New Guinea)
Jo is a Co-I and Research Fellow on Surfaces. PNG’s globally important rainforests are threatened by logging, and its health-related Sustainable Development Goal indicators are worse than all but two countries outside sub-Saharan Africa. Surfaces is mapping evidence on integrated health and conservation projects worldwide, and aims to provide a practical example in PNG’s rainforests, focusing first on neglected tropical skin diseases (specifically scabies and fungal diseases). [Funder: Sussex Sustainability Research Programme]. Read more >
2014-24 Public Health England Scabies Research Project and NIHR Global Health Unit on Neglected Tropical Diseases (UK; Europe; Papua New Guinea; Ethiopia)
Jo came to BSMS in January 2014 to work on the Scabies Research Project, a collaboration between BSMS, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and Public Health England (PHE). The project carried out the first UK study into scabies outbreaks in care homes for the elderly, which are a considerable public health burden and highly distressing for residents (see the cover story in Lancet Infectious Diseases). The team is now developing national outbreak guidelines. Scabies is also a WHO Neglected Tropical Disease and Jo is now engaged in international projects in Papua New Guinea and Ethiopia. They have also studied outbreaks in refugee/migrant camps across Europe. [Funders: Public Health England, British Skin Foundation, Economic Social Research Council, National Institute of Healthcare Research].
2015-22 Ecology of Lyme disease (South Downs National Park)
Jo is investigating ecological determinants of Lyme disease hazard in the South Downs National Park and potential One Health based interventions. This involves field collection of ticks, acarine taxonomy, real-time PCR pathogen identification, and a systematic review to determine if interventions that aim to decrease Lyme disease hazard at non-domestic sites can be effective without negatively affecting ecosystem health. [Funders: British Ecological Society, Royal Society of Biology, British Deer Society, Nineveh Charitable Trust].
2016-17 Novel tests for infectious diseases to reduce hospital admissions (UK)
On behalf of i-sense Jo explored health and social care worker’s views on novel point-of-care diagnostics. The capability to detect infections and wirelessly connect results to healthcare systems may help patients gain faster access to treatment, and support public health efforts to map indicators of emerging infections in real-time. [Funder: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council].