Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation
Main content start

Postdoctoral Position Available: Modelling the dynamics and optimal control of schistosomiasis transmission over heterogenous landscapes

2 year position available at Hopkins Marine Station, Pacific Grove, California

Applications are invited for a postdoctoral research position in modeling disease dynamics as part of an EEID NSF-funded project and a Belmont CHE collaborative project focused on the environmental determinants of transmission risks in schistosomiasis, one of the most important of the so called neglected tropical diseases, with 800 million people at risk, 240 million infected, the vast majority school age children.

These projects aim to develop and apply new methods integrating fine scale ecological data, high-resolution precision mapping, disease dynamical modeling over regional networks and climate projections. The goal is to identify potential transmission hotspots for schistosomiasis and use this information to derive optimal control strategies, complementing mass drug administration with environmental interventions for control of the snail intermediate host or of its habitat.

The research here proposed has applications that go beyond schistosomiasis to encompass environmentally mediated diseases of poverty diseases of poverty in Africa and South America, such as Chagas disease, cysticercosis, echinococcosis, hookworm, leishmaniasis, and schistosomiasis, which altogether affect more than 1.4 billion people worldwide and cause substantial global mortality, morbidity, reduced educational and employment opportunities, and stigma.

The postdocs will be responsible to address questions on dynamics and control of schistosomiasis and other environmentally mediated diseases by developing mathematical models to describe disease dynamics over different scales, from within-host dynamics of schistosome parasite and human immune response, to population level epidemiological dynamics as well as disease dynamics over a network of waterways and human mobility at a regional level. Field data on human parasitology and malacology will be used to parameterize computational models, along with information on thermal sensitivity and climate change projections. The postdoc fellow is expected to use also a range of optimization tools, such as cost-effectiveness analysis and optimal control theory - to identify, via numerical simulations, best fits and optimal intervention strategies.

The successful applicant will join a vigorous international research team working on a range of problems in epidemiology, and computational ecology. The postdoctoral fellow will be supervised by Prof. Giulio De Leo (MS in Environmental Sciences and PhD in ecology) and Dr. Susanne Sokolow (DMV and PhD in Ecology) who have long experience in the development, implementation, and application of novel methods in ecology, disease dynamics and the control of schistosomiasis and environmentally mediated diseases of poverty. In 2015 they have launched and directed the Stanford Program for Disease Ecology, Health and the Environment ( The postdoctoral fellow will operate in a larger collaborative international network with top scientists in ecosystem services, disease ecology, climatology, malacology, public health, bioengineering in Stanford and beyond - including the Natural Capital project at Stanford, UW, UCSB and Stonybrook University in the USA;  Politecnico di Milano in Italy; University of Stirling, University of St-Andrews in Scotland; Université de Cocody in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire; Department of Health and the National Institute for Space Research in Sao Paulo State, and Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Minas Gerais in Brazil; Université Gaston Berger in Saint Louis and AIMS Senegal, and more…).

The postdoctoral fellow will have the opportunity to travel to, and/or collaborate with researchers from, our field sites in Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Madagascar and Brazil. Commitment to outreach and capacity building will be encouraged by designing and running short college and graduate level trainings in the countries where we work.

We seek applicants interested in developing cutting-edge inference methodology and investigating novel ways to control neglected tropical diseases with specific applications to schistosomiasis and other environmentally transmitted diseases using data from a variety of sources. The selected candidate will have opportunities to be involved also in additional projects on disease dynamics in the lab. 

Applicants for this position should have a doctoral degree in Epidemiology, Ecology, Applied Mathematics, Computer Science, Statistics, Bioinformatics, or a related field. The successful applicant will have a record of scholarly publication and excellent written and oral communication skills.

The ideal candidate is expected to have a documented experience in:

  • development and analysis of ODEs epidemiological models, preferably in R;
  • model calibration through maximum likelihood estimators, Bayesian approach, or other statistical approaches
  • publication of disease dynamics papers in peer reviewed journals

Please, let us know in case you have any additional experience in one or more of the following fields:

  • Optimal Control Theory and/or other optimization methods;
  • advanced calibration methods, such as particle filtering;
  • statistical, mixed effect models in R;
  • agent base modelling;
  • machine learning and/or convolutional neural networks;
  • spatial statistics;
  • understanding of GIS, and basic knowledge of the most common tools (such as ArcGis, qGis, or Google Earth Engine);
  • structural equation modeling (SEM).

Let us know also in case you have also:

  • basic knowledge of French, or Portuguese
  • working experience either in Africa or South America
  • any other element that might be useful for the required research.

 Lab Location and scientific network

De Leo and Sokolow are based at the Hopkins Marine Station (HMS) of Stanford University in the gorgeous Monterey Bay. While the postdoctoral fellowship will likely start with remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, the selected candidate is expected to move to HMS as soon as this will be possible, possibly in the fall 2021 or, at the very latest in January 2022. De Leo and Sokolow maintain a vibrant program within the Stanford campus, collaborating with other colleagues in the Woods Institute for the Environment (where De Leo is senior fellow), in Biology, Stanford School of Medicine and School of Earth Energy and the Environment and the Natural Capital Project and more. They are affiliated to the Stanford University Center for Innovation in Global Health in the School of Medicine, with the Stanford University King Center on Poverty and Development and with Bio-X, and are actively part of the effort to launch a new Human and Planetary Health Initiative at Stanford.  

Their research has been funded by both private and public funders, including Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, NSF, NIH, and their work has received extensive media coverage, such as a 10 minute documentary produced by the California Academy of Sciences  ( Two of the ten case studies featured by the Planetary Health Alliance ( are focused on research we have been conducting in Senegal (http:// and Borneo (http:// More papers and data can be accessed here:

Stanford University consistently ranks among the leading universities worldwide and has top-tier graduate programs in basic and applied science, ecology, evolutionary biology, medicine and epidemiology. Monterey Bay is also routinely rated one of the best places to live in the U.S. due to its easy access to terrestrial and marine wilderness, quaint downtown, and natural beauty.

Compensation and start date. The postdoc salary is $64,268 per year plus Stanford University benefits. Two years of funding are available, the second year contingent on adequate progress during the first one (and possibility for a third year, depending upon funds). We will start to review applications as they are submitted and we are aiming to start this position as soon as possible, possibly no later than the beginning of the summer.

To apply: please submit a single PDF document containing: (1) cover letter, summarizing the skills, experience, motivations, research interest in this project, when you will available to start,  and the names and contact information of three references, (2) curriculum vitae, and (3) two representative papers, by email to (please, also copy )

Stanford University is a Non-Discriminatory/ Affirmative Action Employer. Individuals from underrepresented groups are especially encouraged to apply.