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Hahn recognized for early career contributions in ecology and health

August 29, 2014

The International Association for Ecology and Health has recognized Nelson Institute alumna Micah Hahn with its Exceptional Early Career Contribution to the Field of EcoHealth award, presented at the association’s biennial conference in Montréal, Canada, in August.

The early career award, presented to a recipient within 10 years of completion of his or her Ph.D., “recognizes a promising researcher who has demonstrated the potential to advance the field of EcoHealth,” the association’s website states. The organization strives for the sustainable health of people, wildlife and ecosystems by promoting discovery, understanding and transdisciplinarity.

Award recipients must have shown evidence of professional excellence through key publications in scientific journals or other scholarly media; peer recognition; excellence in communication of scientific knowledge to the media, public or other stakeholders; involvement in education in the field, and other factors.

Hahn received a doctorate in Environment and Resources from the Nelson Institute in 2013, where she was advised by professor Jonathan Patz and studied infectious diseases, zoonotic diseases, disease ecology, geospatial analysis and remote sensing. Her dissertation examined land use and forest composition effects on the ecology of vector-borne and zoonotic disease.

Hahn also received the Certificate on Humans and the Global Environment, a non-degree graduate program administered by the Nelson Institute Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment meant to complement any UW-Madison graduate program with supplementary training in interdisciplinary environmental research.

As a postdoctoral research fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hahn continues to investigate connections between the health of humans, animals and the ecosystems we share.

Her current research, conducted at the CDC’s Division of Vector-borne Diseases in Fort Collins, Colorado, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, examines the seasonal prediction of West Nile virus across the United States using climate data. Her goal is to create an early warning system for the virus that can be used by state and local public health departments to allocate funding for mosquito control and virus education programs based on expected severity of the upcoming West Nile virus season.

Hahn is especially interested in understanding how human-driven changes to the environment create opportunities for disease spillover from domestic and wild animals to people.  

“By understanding the impact of landscape patterns or social practices on disease risk, we can create science-driven public health interventions that simultaneously protect ecosystems and human health,” she says.