Research Projects

Model Building Software Platform

Computational models of complex systems are needed to advance research and implement policy in theoretical and applied population biology. We are particularly interested in the application of hybrid dynamical systems and agent-based models to addressing problems in disease, wildlife, movement, and evolutionary ecology, and global change and conservation biology. Together with Richard Salter, a professor of computer science at Oberlin College, we are rolling out the NOVA software modeling building platform that has many innovative and unique features that allow applied scientists, with minimal coding skills, to build cutting edge models for management and research. NOVA includes a desktop platform (NovaDT), tools to implement Nova models in web browers (NovaOL) and to run browsers models on a backend high performance computation systems (NovaOS)

Current Efforts

Rolling out a NovaOL population viability analysis application, based on modifying a two-sex Leslie matrix formulation to include density-dependent survival, metapopulation structure, demographic and environmental stochasticity.

Developing a NovaOL numerical optimization and evolutionary algorithm implementation application called PEANO (Nova Platform for Evolutionary Algorithms and Numerical Optimization, named for Giuseppe Peano, 1858-1932, the great Italian mathematical logician and creator of the artificial language Interlingua)

Publications Using Nova Models

Getz, et al. 2015. Tactics and Strategies for Managing Ebola Outbreaks and the Salience of Immunization. Computational and Mathematical Methods in Medicine, visit.

Getz, et al. 2015. Clonal and Sexual Evolution of Foraging Strategy Guilds: a Nova genetic algorithm implementation. PLoS ONE, visit

Disease and Movement Ecology


For the past decade, we have been studying anthrax in zebra, springbok, and elephants in Etosha National Park, Namibia, and the role played by jackal, vultures and lions in scavenging the carcasses of animals that have died of anthrax. Currently, we are teaming up with Jason Blackburn at the University of Florida, to elucidate how Bacillus anthracis, the causative agent of anthrax, moves from environmental reservoirs into wildlife and livestock populations in the white-tailed deer and bison in the United States.

We have a very broad interest in parasite ecology, particularly in the context of climate change biology. More specifically, we are collaborating with scientist at UC Davis and Micheal Bull at Flinders University in Australia to study tick dynamics on sleep lizards.

A recent publication of the group is: Dougherty et al. 2015. Paradigms for parasite conservation. Conservation Biology, visit

The Palearctic Flyway

In collaboration with Professor Ran Nathan at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, we have submitted proposals to study the role that migratory birds play in spreading diseases such avian influenza viruses (AIV) and Newcastle disease virus (NDV). The Hula valley in Israel is part of the Palearctic-African flyway, the world’s largest bird migration system. Our plan is to study to how migration impacts the evolutionary ecology of hosts, parasites (e.g. Plasmodium) and pathogens (viral and bacterial) in this multihost-multiparasite system.