The spread of an infection is an ecological event, with the infected hosts acting like prey and the infectious agents like predators – albeit rather tiny ones. This metaphor can help us understand the spread of emerging infections, the control of existing infections and the spread of infections inside individual people. Using examples from infectious diseases that pose problems right now this lecture will illustrate how taking an ecological view of plagues helps us to understand them and, sometimes, control them.
Professor Angela McLean FRS studied mathematics at Oxford but soon after decided to become a biologist. After a brief spell in the City she joined the Mathematical Biology Group at the National Institute for Medical Research at Mill Hill then returned to Oxford as a Royal Society University Research Fellow. In 1994 she went on secondment to the Institut Pasteur in Paris to work on the population dynamics of murine lymphocytes in the immunology department there. In 1998 she became Head of Mathematical Biology at the BBSRC ’s Institute for Animal Health. Since 2008 she has been a Senior Research Fellow at All Souls College in Oxford. She was elected to the Royal Society in 2009, and was awarded the Royal Society’s Gabor Medal in 2011.