Afonso Dimas Martins


Track: 10, Tools to explore risk of emergence of vector-borne diseases in ecosystems


Hans Heesterbeek (UU)

Primary Supervisor

Hans Heesterbeek (UU)


Quirine ten Bosch (WUR)


Utrecht University, Wageningen University


Description PhD project

My interests are spread out across many disciplines such as molecular biology, mathematics, and behaviour. This means I can make small talk about very different themes, but also makes making life-defining decisions a bit difficult. Choosing this PhD, however, made this decision a bit easier, since it calls for a connection between many different fields, catering to my divergent curiosities. During the following years I’m sure I’ll meet inspiring minds and learn how to become a proper scientist.

I started as a Biology student, but in the last year of my Bachelor’s, I participated in a project where I was exposed to epidemiological mathematical models and started gaining intuition on how to represent different population dynamics with simple models.

To continue along this path, I enrolled in a Master of Biostatistics program. During my Master’s thesis, I worked on modelling host viral transmission using within-host models, which then expanded into my thesis. In this project, I walked through the whole process of mathematical modelling, from the analytical study to the model fitting to data.

I became interested in this PhD project because it would allow me to explore more deeply the area of theoretical epidemiology using a multi-disciplinary approach. The study of the dynamics of vector-borne diseases is a very relevant topic, and mathematical modelling is a great contribution to this research. Within this project, I hope to understand how different vectors emerge and can be maintained in a population and learn how to model the interactions between the many agents of an ecosystem. I would like to contribute to answering questions regarding the evolution and spread of vector-borne diseases using all I know and learning new methods and approaches. Most importantly, I believe this PhD program will allow me to be a successful member of academia and be forever a learner.

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One Health PACT with project number 109986 is (partly) financed by the Dutch Research Council (NWO).