UBC Mathematics Colloquium: Helen Alexander

  • Date: 01/19/2018
  • Time: 15:00
Helen Alexander, Oxford University

University of British Columbia


Stochastic population dynamic models with applications to pathogen evolution


Biological populations facing severe environmental change must adapt in order to avoid extinction. This so-called “evolutionary rescue” scenario is relevant to many applied problems, including pathogen evolution of drug resistance during the treatment of infectious diseases. Understanding what drives the rescue process gives rise to interesting mathematical modelling challenges arising from two key features: demographic and evolutionary processes occur on the same timescale, and stochasticity is inherent in the emergence of rare well-adapted mutants. In this talk, I will present recent work on population dynamics in changing environments, merging biological realism with tractable stochastic models. Firstly, I will describe a model of drug resistance evolution in chronic viral infections, which serves as a case study for a novel mathematical approach yielding analytical approximations for the probability of rescue. Secondly, I will present a combined theoretical and experimental investigation of the classical problem of establishment (non-extinction) of new lineages, using antibiotic-resistant bacteria as a model system. Finally, I will discuss some future directions in modelling antibiotic treatment to predict optimal dosing strategies, and in developing a general theoretical framework for evolutionary rescue that unites approaches to distinct applied problems.

Other Information: 

Location: ESB 2012


Refreshments will be served at 2:45 p.m. in ESB 4133, the PIMS Lounge.