Leah Johnson

Assistant Professor


  • Ph.D. (Applied Mathematics and Statistics; Physics) June 2006, University of California Santa Cruz, Dissertation title: Mathematical Modeling of Cholera: from Bacterial Life Histories to Human Epidemics
  • M.S. (Physics) September 2003, University of California Santa Cruz
  • B.S. with Honors (Physics) June 2001, The College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA

Awards and Honors

  • Early Career Fellow, Mathematical Biosciences Institute, The Ohio State University (Fall 2013)
  • Finalist, Kings College Junior Research Fellowship, University of Cambridge (2008)
  • College Research Associate, Jesus College, University of Cambridge (2006-09)
  • President's Dissertation Year Fellow, UCSC (2005-06)
  • GAANN Fellow (Graduate Assistance in Areas of NationalNeed), UCSC (2002-05)
  • Regents Fellowship, UCSC (2001)

Current Grants

As Principal Investigator:

  • US-UK Collab: RCN: Vector Behavior in Transmission Ecology (VectorBiTE)}. NIH-NSF-USDA Ecology of Infectious Diseases. Grant #1R01AI122284-01. Project Period: 07/2015--06/2020
  • Quantifying how Bioenergetics and Foraging Determine Population Dynamics in Threatened Antarctic Albatrosses. NSF Division of Polar Programs, Antarctic Organisms and Ecosystems, Award number 1341649. Project Period: 05/2014 -- 04/2017

As Co-Principal Investigator:

Effects of temperature on vector-borne disease transmission: integrating theory with empirical data. NSF-NIH-USDA Ecology of Infectious Diseases. Award Number 1518681; PI: Mordecai, E. (Stanford). Project Period: 07/2015--06/2020

STAT 3616: Biological Statistics 2

  • Methods for statistical -- particularly Bayesian -- inference and validation for mechanistic mathematical models of biological systems
  • Impacts of environmental drivers, population structure, and individual level dynamics and heterogeneity on the spread and control of infectious diseases, including vector-borne disease.
  • Understanding how individual behaviors or life history strategies evolve in response to external pressures and stimuli, such as anthropogenic factors or climate change, and how these individual traits impact population dynamics and persistence.

Selected Recent Publications

  • R.A. Taylor, E. Mordecai, C.A. Gilligan, J.R. Rohr, {L.R. Johnson}. Mathematical models are a powerful method to understand and control the spread of Huanglongbing . {Accepted}, PeerJ.
  • R.A. Taylor, S.J. Ryan, J.S. Brashares and L.R. Johnson. Hunting, Food Subsidies and Mesopredator Release: Understanding the Dynamics of Crop-Raiding Baboons in a Managed Landscape. Ecology, 2016, 97 (4), 951-960. DOI: 10.1890/15-0885.1
  • S.J. Ryan, A. McNally, L.R. Johnson, E. Mordecai, K. Paaijmans, K. Lafferty. Climate change and malaria shifts: new implications for health geography and targeting control. Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, 2015, 15(12): 718-725. DOI:10.1089/vbz.2015.1822. (arXiv preprint: arXiv:1407.7612)
  • S.J. Ryan, T. BenHorin, L.R. Johnson. Malaria control and senescence: the importance of accounting for the pace and shape of ageing in wild mosquitoes. Ecosphere, 2015, 6:art170–art170. DOI:10.1890/ES15-00094.1.
  • L.R. Johnson, T. Ben-Horin, K.D. Lafferty, A. McNally, E. Mordecai, K. Paaijmans, S. Pawar, S.J. Ryan, Understanding uncertainty in temperature effects on vector-borne disease: A Bayesian approach. Ecology, 2015, 96:203-213. preprint arXiv:1310.5110.
  • J. Voyles, L.R. Johnson, C.J. Briggs, S.D. Cashins, R.A. Alford, L. Berger, L.F. Skerratt, R. Speare, E.B. Rosenblum. Experimental evolution alters the rate and temporal pattern of population growth in Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, a lethal fungal pathogen of amphibians. Ecology and Evolution, 2014; 4(18): 3633-3641.
  • L.R. Johnson, L. Pecquerie and R.M. Nisbet. Bayesian inference for bioenergetic models, Ecology, 2013, 94(4):882-894. doi:10.1890/12-0650.1
  • E. Mordecai, K. Paaijmans, L.R. Johnson, C. Balzer, T. Ben-Horin, E. de Moor, A. McNally, S. Pawar, S. Ryan, T. Smith, K. Lafferty. Optimal temperature for malaria transmission is dramatically lower than previously predicted, Ecology Letters, 2013, 16(1):22-30. doi: 10.1111/ele.12015
  • J. Voyles, L.R. Johnson, C.J. Briggs, S.D. Cashins, R.A. Alford, L. Berger, L.F. Skerratt, R. Speare, E.B. Rosenblum. Temperature alters reproductive life history patterns in Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, a lethal pathogen associated with the global loss of amphibians. Ecology and Evolution, 2012, 9:2241-2249.
  • L. Pecquerie, L.R. Johnson, S.A.L.M. Kooijman and R.M. Nisbet. Analyzing variations in life-history traits of five Pacific salmon species in the context of Dynamic Energy Budget (DEB) theory. Journal of Sea Research, 2011, 60:424-433.
  • L.R. Johnson and C.J. Briggs. Parameter Inference for an Individual Based Model of Chytridiomycosis in Frogs. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 2011, 277(1):90-98. DOI:10.1016/j.jtbi.2011.02.010
  • R.M. Nisbet, E. McCauley, and L.R. Johnson. Dynamic Energy Budget Theory and Population Ecology: Lessons from Daphnia. Phil.~Trans.~R.~Soc.~B, 2010, 365:3541-3552. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2010.0167.
  • D. Merl, L.R. Johnson, R.B. Gramacy and M. Mangel. An R package for the Adaptive Management of Epidemiological Interventions. Journal of Statistical Software, 2010, 36(6):1-32.
  • L.R. Johnson. Implications of Dispersal and Life History Strategies for the Persistence of Linyphiid spider Populations. Ecological Modelling, 2010, 221:1138-1147.
  • D. Merl, L.R. Johnson, R.B. Gramacy and M. Mangel. A statistical framework for the adaptive management of epidemiological interventions. PLoS ONE, 2009 4(6): e5807. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0005807
  • L.R. Johnson. Microcolony and Biofilm Formation as a Survival Strategy for Bacteria. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 2008, 251:24-34. DOI:10.1016/j.jtbi.2007.10.039
  • L.R. Johnson and M.S. Mangel. Life histories and the evolution of aging in bacteria and other single-celled organisms. Mechanisms of Aging and Development, 2006, 127(10):786-793.
Leah Johnson
  • lrjohn@vt.edu
  • 401-B Hutcheson Hall (MC 0439)
    250 Drillfield Dr.
    Blacksburg, VA 24061