Across the Pond webinar: Disease Detectives

Join our webinar series called "Across the Pond", bringing together two Fulbright Scholars from either side of the Atlantic to discuss the intersection of their interests. Our transatlantic conversations address global challenges of all natures, and are a celebration of the civic engagement at the heart of the Commission's work.

Disease Detectives: Tracking the Covid-19 pandemic will examine some of the different ways in which we can track and model infectious diseases such as Covid-19. While the contributions of medical sciences to the pandemic are widely reported, the involvement of researchers from other disciplines are less commonly discussed. Over the last 18 months, Mathematical Biologist, Alex Best, and Engineer, Caitlyn Butler, both worked on efforts to model and track the spread of Covid-19 infection.

In their conversation they will talk about the models and data used to predict the Covid-19 pandemic and inform policy decisions. In doing so they will consider both the challenges of using models to predict the spread of disease and inform policy, as well as the ethical considerations of tracking infectious diseases.


Date: Tuesday 6 July 

Time: 4:00 PM (UK time)

Register here for this event


Alex Best is a mathematical biologist focussing on models of infectious disease, particularly the evolution of hosts and their parasites. He is a lecturer in Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Sheffield, and is currently a Fulbright-Lloyds visiting scholar in Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley. After studying BSc Mathematics and Philosophy at Durham University and MRes Mathematical Biology at York University, Alex undertook his PhD in Animal and Plant Sciences at Sheffield. After postdoctoral positions in biology at Sheffield and Exeter, he was awarded a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship in 2013 in the School of Mathematics and Statistics at Sheffield, becoming a lecturer 3 years later. He is in Berkeley with his wife and three children, and is looking forward to exploring the Bay Area.

Caitlyn Butler is an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in Civil and Environmental Engineering. She did her graduate work in Environmental Engineering at the University of Notre Dame. Prior to that, she received her bachelor’s degree in Engineering Science with the first class engineers to graduate from Smith College, a women’s, liberal arts college. Dr. Butler’s research focuses on wastewater treatment, emphasizing the use of biofilms systems in remediating environmental contaminants. She received a highly competitive NSF CAREER award for early career faculty for a novel approach to wastewater treatment using granular biofilms. In the fall, she plans to work at University of Sheffield as a Fulbright Scholar studying the role of protozoan communities in drinking water distribution system biofilms. She is also very much looking forward to spending time in Sheffield with her husband and three children.

Across the Pond is a new initiative from the US-UK Fulbright Commission presenting transatlantic conversations between scholars, covering a wide range of topics that showcase the range of interests of this year’s cohort of Fulbright Scholars. Keep an eye out for future events in the series running through the summer and early autumn.