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Wow. I haven’t updated this website in a while… Well, it’s not because we’ve been sitting around idly… Here are some of the most salient happenings since the last post over a year ago:


In a nutshell, lots of our research that has come out… In the last couple of months, Ashley published her work on influenza virus evolution occurring in a human challenge study in the Journal of Virology, Rotem published her work on dengue virus within-host dynamics in PLoS Computational Biology, and the dengue vaccine comparative modeling work I was involved in was accepted in PLoS Medicine. See the Publications page for more info!


We have recently been awarded a DARPA grant focusing on characterizing and modeling the functional organization of influenza virus within infected individuals, and the implications of this organization for between-host transmission and the development of novel therapeutic approaches. We are very much looking forward to interacting with both our theoretical and empirical collaborators Ruian Ke at NC State, Chris Brooke at UIUC, Connie Chang at MSU, and Laura Fabris at Rutgers over the next four years!

Together with Ben Lopman at Emory and Andreas Handel at UGA, we have submitted a MIDAS R01 on modeling norovirus within- and between-host dynamics!


In 2016, Katia has had the opportunity to go to and speak at some fabulous meetings, including an Aspen Center of Physics meeting n January (Populations, Evolution, and Physics, organized by Jeff Gore, Oskar Hallatschek, and Edo Kussell), an EMBL/EMBO meeting in Heidelberg in May on New Model Systems for Linking Ecology and Evolution, a MIDAS meeting in May, an Evolutionary Medicine meeting in Durham in June, a Modeling Influenza meeting in Princeton in July, and a Calicivirus meeting in October in Savannah.

She has also had the opportunity to give seminar talks in various Georgia locations during her sabbatical stay at Emory between January and July 2016, including in Biology at Emory, in Emory’s PBEE seminar, in Georgia Tech’s evolutionary microbiology seminar, at the CDC, and in UGA’s Computational Ecology seminar. Had a great time down there!

She is looking forward to her upcoming Yale seminar and her upcoming talk at the AMS sectional meeting in Raleigh!


Fall 2016: Ashley Sobel successfully defends her Ph.D.! She is sticking with the Koelle lab for another semester as a post-doc, then goes back for her final year of med school before graduating with a seriously over-educated MD/PHD degree.

Spring 2016: Rotem Ben-Shachar successfully defends her Ph.D., gets married, treks around S. America, and then starts a post-doc in Fall 2016 with Eva Harris and Mike Boots at Berkeley!

Spring 2016: Stacy Scholle successfully defends her Ph.D.!

Fall 2016: Celeste Donato from Duke-NUS visits for the month of October to collaborate on influenza B!

Fall 2016: Undergrads Eddie Zhao and Alex Dai sign on for independent research!


Katia is teaching two new classes this year! Ecology of Human Health, with Bill Morris, and Mathematics of Disease, with Jim Nolen.

The Koelle lab has recently been funded by DARPA to develop mathematical models to dissect the functional organization of influenza viruses within infected hosts and the effects of this organization on influenza transmission dynamics and the development of innovative control strategies. The award is a collaborative award between Ruian Ke at NC State, Chris Brooke at UIUC, Connie Chang at MSU, Laura Fabris at Rutgers, and Katia Koelle’s group at Duke, and involves both experimentation and mathematical modeling. Background in simulation modeling, mathematical analysis, nonlinear population dynamics, multi-level selection theory, and fitting models to data is desired.

Lots of comings and goings…

Nicole Nova joined the lab earlier this year as an associate in research.

Undergrad Olivia Yvellez from U. of Chicago joins the Koelle group for the summer.

Lam Ha joins the Koelle group this August as a new Biology Ph.D. student. He’ll be coming from Ho Chi Minh City’s Oxford University Clinical Research Unit, where he has been working with Maciek Boni.

Diana Vera Cruz will be starting a rotation in the Koelle group this August as a new CBB Ph.D. student.


Goings: No one leaving the group right now, but lots of travel (furthest destination winner: Ashley, to Madagascar)

The fellowship recognizes two Duke Ph.D. students annually whose research shows particular creativity and promise. Congratulations, Rotem, and how will be spending that $5,000 supplement to your grad student stipend??

Rotem has published her first thesis chapter on the work she’s been doing on developing within-host dengue models that recover salient features of primary and secondary dengue infections. See publications page for more!


Katia gives birth to her second (and final!) child, Sonja Sawicki! Sonja was born January 27th, two days shy of her bigger sister’s 3rd birthday. She seems very good-natured, and at 6 weeks, is already sleeping through the night!

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The next 6 months will see a lot of travel! We are all heading down to the annual EEID (Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Disease) conference this May, this year being held in Athens, GA! Katia and Ashley are also heading down to Atlanta for a MIDAS meeting in late April.

Katia is heading to fantastic European destinations this summer. She’ll be speaking in the viral cross-scales session organized by Thomas Leitner and Richard Goldstein at SMBE’s annual meeting, this year in Vienna! She’ll also be speaking in the viral phylodynamics session organized by Tanja Stadler and Alexei Drummond at the ESEB meeting, this year in Lausanne!

Ashley has just come back from the American Mathematical Society’s meeting in DC, where she gave a talk on her research in the within-host disease modeling session organized by Sivan Leviyang and Stanca Ciupe. Her talk, coauthored with Katia Koelle, Micah McClain, and Chris Woods, was entitled: ‘A human challenge experiment points towards the importance of viral load dynamics and viral genetics in driving influenza symptoms’. Despite formidable attempts, snowstorms could not keep her away from the meeting.

Rotem is currently at a Gordon Research Conference on Tropical Infectious Diseases taking place in Galveston, TX. She is presenting a poster on her current work, entitled: ‘Statistical fits of primary infection within-host dengue model provide insight into virus serotype-specific mechanisms, with implications for disease severity’.

For a month, starting October 20th, Justin Silverman will rotate in the Koelle lab to determine if the research done in this group is up to snuff with what he’d like to get out of his Ph.D.! Welcome, Justin.

Katia presents some of her and her group’s recent work on influenza antigenic evolution at UPenn (thanks for the invitation, Erol!), at UNC (Ecology seminar), and at Princeton (EEB) this Fall! She was also fortunate to take part in a Virology-in-progress mini-symposium on ebola that Ron Swanstrom at UNC organized. Her talk focused on insights that viral sequence data have provided researchers on the current 2014 West Africa ebola epidemic.

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