Emily J. Flies

About: ef_about

I have been a postdoctoral researcher with the Dynamics of Eco-evolutionary Patterns lab since 2016. I am working with other folks in the lab and at the Breakthrough Institute in the United States to understand how human consumption patterns drive land use change and the resultant impact on biodiversity. I am currently focusing on the agricultural sector particularly how food demand drives land use impacts. I hope to improve our understanding of the drivers of land use change in order to provide a foundation upon which global evidence-based policy can build.

Postdoctoral research within D.E.E.P

Understanding past and predicting future food demand and its impacts on the environment

Research aims: a) to use theoretical and empirical knowledge to optimize global food demand modelling, b) to test how those food demand models respond to perturbations in order to understand possible future food needs and what can influence those needs, c) apply our knowledge of possible future food demand and agricultural scenarios to the possible impacts food demand will have on land use and biodiversity.


2017                Flies, E.J., Lau, C., et al (2017) “Host expansion, mosquitoes and emerging infectious disease: Ross River virus poised for emergence?” BioScience (in prep)

2017                Flies, E.J., Weinstein, P., et al (2017) “Disease ecology of Ross River virus: a problem of scale?” Epidemiology (in prep)

2017                Flies, E.J., Skelly, C., et al (2017) “Biodiverse urban green spaces: a prescription for global health.” Environmental Health Perspectives (in prep)

2016                Flies, E. J., Williams, C. R., et al (2016) “Improving public health intervention for mosquito-borne disease: the value of geovisualization using source of infection and LandScan data.” Epidemiology and Infection DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0950268816001357

2016                Flies, E. J., Flies, A., et al. (2016) “Regional comparison of mosquito bloodmeals in South Australia: implications for Ross River virus ecology”. Journal of Medical Entomology DOI:  10.1093/jme/tjw035

2015                Flies, A.; Mansfield, L; Flies, E. J., et al (2016) “Socioecological predictors of immune defenses in a wild spotted hyenas” Functional Ecology 30(9): 1549-1557.

2015                Flies, E. J., Toi , Cheryl, et al. (2015). “Converting Mosquito Surveillance to Arbovirus Surveillance with Honey-Baited Nucleic Acid Preservation Cards.” Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases 15(7): 397-403.

2014                Johnston, E.*, P. Weinstein, et al. (2014). “Mosquito communities with trap height and urban-rural gradient in Adelaide, South Australia: implications for disease vector surveillance.” Journal of Vector Ecology 39(1): 48-55.

2013                Johnston, E.*, J. I. Tsao, et al. (2013). “Anaplasma phagocytophilum Infection in American Robins and Gray Catbirds: An Assessment of Reservoir Competence and Disease in Captive Wildlife.” Journal of Medical Entomology 50(1): 163-170.

*Maiden name

More about me and my research:ef_moreaboutme

I have taken a meandering route to my current position of postdoctoral researcher. My undergraduate (Bachelor of Arts) degree was in anthropology and psychology from the University of Buffalo, USA. I then spent a few years teaching outdoor education and travelling. During this time, my physical anthropology interest in primates intersected with my passion for ecology and I did an independent study investigating the impact of environmental disruption on the faecal parasite loads in monkeys in Costa Rica. That experience helped ignite my passion for research and I returned to school to conduct my masters degree at Michigan State University, USA. I investigated whether certain bird species could become infected with a tick-borne bacteria (Anaplasma phagocytophilum) and whether they could pass on that infection.

During my masters degree, I became more interested in the connections between human, animal and environmental health (One Health). My PhD research, as part of the Healthy Environments, Healthy People Research Group at the University of South Australia, explored how ecological factors are impacting transmission of mosquito-borne infections in South Australia. During my PhD, I developed a novel mosquito-borne virus surveillance technique that used nucleic acid-preserving paper coated in honey, and lots of recycled milk cartons and pantyhose. With those special traps, I sampled over 100 field sites four times throughout the transmission season and detected three different viruses in the mosquitoes of South Australia. With my spatial analysis, I was able to identify the social and environmental factors associated with higher rates of human infections.


I am also passionate about improving public understanding of and engagement with science through better science communication. During my PhD, my partner and I co-founded Science in the Pub Adelaide (ScienceInThePubAdelaide.org.au) and, since moving to Hobart last year, Science in the Pub Tasmania (ScienceInThePubTasmania.org.au). These two ongoing organizations each bring a panel of 3 engaging, knowledgeable scientists into a pub to explain, and discuss a scientific topic with each other and the attendees. We average ~100 audience members each month, have acquired grants and sponsorship to provide free hot nibbles for the audience and free drinks for the panel and we conduct a raffle each month to make the events self-sustaining. We learn a lot and have a great time at each event and consistently get feedback from the audience (through our monthly survey) that they do too.