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Featured Profile: Lisa Sattenspiel


Lisa Sattenspiel

Insights uncovered by University of Missouri researcher Dr. Lisa Sattenspiel could help stop the spread of deadly disease.

The Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918–19 killed more than 50 million people worldwide. By comparison, the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic of 2002–03 resulted in fewer than a thousand fatalities. The successful containment of SARS is credited to the rapid response of public health authorities, who were aided by insights resulting from mathematical models. It is these models, as well as computer simulations, that Sattenspiel uses to understand how infectious disease spreads over a geographic area.

Sattenspiel’s models have enabled her to provide snapshots of how the Spanish flu affected different areas of the globe. Her research shows that certain areas such as Alaska and the present-day Canadian region of Labrador, although geographically distant from one another, were similarly hard-hit — and that secondary factors such as local pathogens, environmental conditions and even occupation played a large role in the high mortality in these areas. Sattenspiel’s findings illustrate the importance of integrative approaches to disease outbreaks in stemming the spread of future infectious disease.

In recognition of her many accomplishments and contributions to her field, in 2013 Sattenspiel was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Dr. Lisa Sattenspiel is Professor and Chair of Anthropology in the College of Arts and Science.

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Related Initiative(s):
One Health/One Medicine