I am interested in the huge diversity of viruses that infect all domains of life. More specifically, my research considers the ecology of viruses i.e., their interactions with each other, their hosts and the environment.
I am especially interested in emerging viruses in a conservation context. For example, my PhD focused on the emerging honey bee pathogen Deformed Wing Virus (DWV), which, in conjunction with the parasitic mite Varroa destructor, has been implicated in honey bee colony collapse throughout the world. The project used next generation sequencing to assess viral diversity within host populations, which lead to the discovery of a third variant of DWV, and further understanding of the competitive dynamics between viral strains. This discovery lead to a patent on the use of superinfection exclusion in social insects which could be used as a biocontrol against colony collapse in honey bees.
More recently, during my post-doctoral fellowship I discovered a range of novel viruses in salmon in British Columbia. There is growing concern that emerging infectious disease is contributing substantially to the collapse of iconic, keystone populations of Sockeye and Chinook salmon in the North East Pacific.. In the future I plan to focus my research on the epidemiology and transmission dynamics of these emerging viruses, and their impact on the health of wild salmon populations.