Raina Plowright
Raina Plowright

Speaker: Raina Plowright, assistant professor,
Department of Microbiology & Immunology,
Montana State University

Date: Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Time: 5:30 PM
Place: Procrastinator Theater, Strand Union Building
Title: Pathogen Spillover and Ecological Levers for Health

A reception will follow the lecture in the Leigh Lounge.


Zoonotic spillover is the transmission of pathogens from vertebrate animals to humans. Spillover requires a series of processes to align, including dynamics of disease in reservoir hosts, environmental conditions that allow pathogens to survive outside of hosts, human behavior that determines exposure and human susceptibility to infection. Sometimes small changes in one part of a zoonotic system can have profound consequences for health of wildlife or humans. In this lecture, Dr. Plowright will describe a long-term study showing how environmental change has driven changes to bat distribution and behavior, leading to spillover of a fatal zoonotic disease. The changes that triggered spillover may be very small and reversing those changes could be an ecological lever for stopping spillover and improving health.

About the speaker

Plowright's MSU lab studies the dynamics of infectious diseases in reservoir hosts, the process of pathogen spillover and infectious diseases in species of conservation concern. They work across multiple disciplines including ecology, epidemiology, immunology, microbiology and mathematical modeling. Plowright, who joined MSU’s faculty in fall 2014, also teaches in the WIMU Regional Program in Veterinary Medicine, which is a cooperative program between MSU, Washington State University, the University of Idaho and the Utah State University.

Plowright is the recipient of the 2017 Kopriva Faculty Lectureship.