Lucy is a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin research fellow at the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Cambridge working on the evolution and genomics of pathogenicity. She was awarded her PhD in evolutionary biology at the University of Edinburgh in 2008 before undertaking postdoctoral research at Edinburgh, University Montpellier II, Imperial College and UCL studying genome evolution on a range of viral and bacterial pathogens.
Many emergent diseases are the result of bacterial pathogens switching to a new host species. As such, understanding this process is one key to limiting the spread of these diseases. I will discuss three projects, each discussing an aspect of the host-switching process in a different pathogen group at a different temporal and taxonomic scale. First, I will present broad-scale comparative data from Rickettsia spp. and their arthropod hosts, showing how broad patterns in their incidence might help to us to understand the determinants of host range. Second, I will investigate the dynamics of host switching events of Staphylococcus aureus between different mammalian and avian hosts, asking whether aspects of host biology might make this process predictable. Finally, I will look closely at a particular switching event to humans in the zoonotic pig pathogen Streptococcus suis, identifying the particular genomic changes associated with the change in virulence and colonisation of a new host species.