Emma received her PhD from the University of Edinburgh in 2015, studying the hertiability of viral load in HIV. While working for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation PANGEA_HIV initiative, she developed an agent-based model to simulate realistic HIV phylogenies, and sequences, used to validate phylogenetic methods for inferring epidemic parameters. In 2017, Emma joined the Neher Lab, in large part to work on Nextstrain, an analysis & visualisation pipeline to enable real-time tracking of pathogens. She has since become a key developer on Nextstrain, adapting it to work with bacterial data and helping to completely refactor the project into a more modular code-base. Since November 2020, Emma is working at the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Basel, in Christian Althaus’ group.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Emma worked on projects with tuberculosis, campylobacter, influenza, and RSV, but primarily studied Enterovirus D68, where she has formulated new hypotheses about its evolution and transmission patterns. Emma moved to working full-time on SARS-CoV-2 in February 2020, and has been a major player in maintaining the daily, dedicated Nextstrain builds, as well as adapting the platform to cope with the challenges the pandemic has brought, and aiding with phylogenetic analyses on data from all over the world. She has also founded CoVariants.org to aid in tracking both known and novel SARS-CoV-2 variants.
Emma is a strong advocate for open-source, open-science, & open-data, as well as promoting gender equality and diversity in science. Her dedication to accurate and accessible science communication has seen her rise to prominence during the pandemic, gaining over 50,000 Twitter followers, citations in over 60 media articles, and a Wikipedia page. She is a recurring weekly guest on two BBC radio programmes.
Date: June 22, 2021
Time: 9:45 am – 10:45 am