Key Research Interests and Expertise

My principal research examines the impact that the natural environment has upon human health. Such research if often statistical using time series approaches to associate health outcomes (e.g. waterborne disease outbreaks) with weather events (e.g. extreme rainfall), or medical geography focussed to examine whether the environment plays a role in the spatial distribution of disease. Another key strand of my research is using GIS to link health outcome data with environmental conditions. My GIS expertise has enabled me to work additionally on ecologically focussed projects within the School. My research has been undertaken for a wide range of funders including Research Councils, Charitable Trusts and Government Departments. I have over 50 peer-reviewed publications and according to Scopus have been cited nearly 800 times and according to Google Scholar 1300 times (h-index 18). My research focuses on three themes:

1. Gastroenterology: Much of my work originally focussed upon links between Cryptosporidium and weather. This then developed to examine the spatial patterns of gastrointestinal infections (e.g. Cryptosporidum, Crohns disease) to see whether these were associated with environmental conditions in the vicinity. Such conditions included agricultural land use, socioeconomic factors and water supply management. In terms of water supply management I am part of a team that has highlighted the poor quality of many private drinking water supplies in the UK. Campylobacter is now a major part of my research and I am a PI of the UK research council funded Campylobacter project (www.enigmaproject.org.uk) which aims to improve our understanding of how Campylobacter moves from the natural environment into humans.

2. Climate Change and Health: The research of ourselves and others has shown that the natural environment affects human health. Therefore, if climate change alters the natural environment, it is likely that human health will be affected. I am lead author of the Department of Health / Health Protection Agency report 'Health Impacts of Climate Change in the UK, in which I jointly authored the chapter on food and waterborne disease. I was also PI of a large Food Standards Agency report examining the likely impact of climate change upon food, which also considered impacts upon human nutrition. I am PI on an innovative FP7 funded research (www.atopica.eu) examining the impact that climate change may have upon allergic diseases across Europe. In conjunction with one of my graduate students I have examined the likely consequences of climate change upon dengue fever in Mexico.

3. A final strand of my research focusses upon the role that river flooding my play in transferring persistent organic pollutants (e.g. Poly chlorinated biphenols, dioxins and polybrominated diphenly ethers) into the food chain. Much of our original research focussed upon milk production but has now been expanded to consider a wider range of food products.

Research opportunities

I always welcome enquiries from potential PhD students. I would be particularly keen to recruit students looking at the influence of weather upon infectious diseases, but will seriously consider applicants wanting to work on one of my other areas of interest.  I would be happy to help with applications for external funding.

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