dr. HJ (Helen) EsserUniversitair docent
I am an assistant professor at the Wildlife Ecology & Conservation group at Wageningen University. As a disease ecologist, I study the ecological interactions between arthropod vectors such as ticks and mosquitoes, the pathogens that they transmit, and the vertebrate hosts on which they feed. Anthropogenic environmental changes, such as biodiversity loss, climate change, and habitat modification are impacting these interactions in unpredictable ways. My ambition is to understand how environmental changes can trigger disease outbreaks by identifying the ecological mechanisms of disease transmission.
So far, my research has focussed on:
1) Qauntifying host-parasite relationships and explaining differences in parasite burden among host individuals and species
2) Understanding how changes in wildlife community composition and loss of species affects host-parasite relationships and ultimitely disease risk
3) Identifying ecological risk factors for disease emergence and creating corresponding risk maps
More recently, I've taken on an experimental approach to study how host movement affects parasite burden and disease transmission, and mathematical modeling to understand the transmission dynamics of tick-borne encephalitis virus.