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Department of Plant Sciences


Research Group


Research Overview

I design and analyse ecological and epidemiological models to find new solutions for improving plant health and for developing international pest management strategies, taking a mathematical, statistical, and, more recently, an economic approach. My research focuses on the interactions between insect, pathogen, and plant, in relation to the dynamics of crop epidemics and management. A particular focus has been on viral plant pathogens with destructive impacts on human livelihoods such as whitefly-borne cassava mosaic and brown streak viruses. I also work as part of an interdisciplinary team who undertake field work in East Africa, including colleagues at the University of Cambridge (Virology & Molecular Plant Pathology) and applied experimental biologists located at BecA ILRI, Nairobi.

Previous Positions

  • 2015 – present, Research Associate, Department of Plant Sciences, Cambridge, UK
  • 2010-2011, Research placement, Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland (BIOSS), Edinburgh, UK


  • 2015 PhD, Department of Mathematics, Heriot-Watt University 
  • 2010 MRes, Mathematics in the Living Environment, University of York 
  • 2005 BSc, Mathematical Sciences, DCU, Republic of Ireland  

Key Publications

The role of pathogen mediated insect superabundance in the east‐African emergence of a plant virus (2022), Journal of Ecology

COVID-19 hospitalization rates rise exponentially with age, inversely proportional to thymic T-cell production (2021), Journal of the Royal Society Interface

What is pathogen-mediated insect superabundance? (2020), Journal of the Royal Society Interface

Pathogenic modification of plants enhances long-distance dispersal of non-persistently transmitted viruses to new hosts (2019), Ecology

The epidemiological feedbacks critical to the evolution of host immunity (2015), Journal of Evolutionary Biology


All Publications



Epidemiology and Modelling Group

Virology and Molecular Plant Pathology


Postdoctoral Research Associate
Ruairi Donnelly

Contact Details

Email address: 
Department of Plant Sciences,
Downing Street,
01223 330228