Free public lecture on new emerging diseases on Jan. 22

January 13, 2011

A free public lecture titled "Just When You Thought You Were Safe . . . New Emerging Diseases Appear" by Peter Hudson will be given at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 22, in 100 Thomas Building on the Penn State University Park campus. Hudson is Willaman professor of biology and director of the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences at Penn State. The event is the first of six lectures in the 2011 Penn State Lectures on the 2011 Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science, a free minicourse for the general public with the theme "Epidemic: Infectious Disease on a Changing Planet." No registration is required. All the lectures take place from 11 a.m. to about 12:30 p.m. on six consecutive Saturday mornings in 100 Thomas Building.

Hudson will describe the latest discoveries about the sources of new emerging diseases, the identities of those who are responsible for the transmission of these diseases, and the strategies that scientists are developing in order to control them. He will present the latest research revelations about why some of these diseases are spreading and threatening populations even in America -- diseases including SARS, Tick Borne Encephalitis, Monkeypox, HIV, and Flu.

Hudson, who also is the founding director of the Penn State Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics and an affiliate of the Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment, has been a member of the Penn State faculty since 2002. His research combines fieldwork, laboratory studies, and mathematical modeling to explore the dynamics of how disease parasites and pathogens flow through animal populations, who infects whom, which individuals are important for disease transmission, and the consequences of infection. His studies include not only the diseases that affect wildlife, but also the role of wildlife in transmitting diseases to other animals, including humans. He has been involved in a study in northern Italy on tick-borne encephalitis, a disease that causes significant mortality among children in southern and eastern Europe. Since arriving at Penn State, Hudson has initiated studies in Pennsylvania that parallel his studies conducted in Italy.

Hudson also has worked extensively on the dynamics of red grouse populations in Scotland and England, where his innovative and large-scale experiments demonstrated that parasites were important in driving population cycles in this species -- a fundamentally important finding in population dynamics. He has investigated a wide range of disease issues including tick-borne illnesses, parasites shared between hosts, and the interactions in parasite communities.

During the bovine-tuberculosis scare and the start of the foot-and-mouth epidemic, Hudson served as a scientific adviser to the Prince of Wales and to the House of Commons Standing Committee. He is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Helminthology and the Journal of Ecohealth. He has been associate editor of the Journal of Animal Ecology since 1990, and was associate editor of the Journal of Wildlife Biology from 1994 to 1998. He has organized many professional conferences on wildlife diseases, including an Alpine Ecology Center meeting on zoonotic disease in 2006. Since becoming the Director of the Huck Institutes, Hudson has led a number of new initiatives to improve academic excellence. He currently is spearheading an initiative in buildling genomic research within Penn State.

Among Hudson's research honors are his elections as Corresponding Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scotland's national academy of science and letters, in 2010; and as a Fellow of The Royal Society, the United Kingdom's National Academy of Science, in 2008. He received the Carlton Herman Award for his research on wildlife diseases from the U.S. Wildlife Disease Association in 2005; was appointed as an honorary member of the British Falconers Club in recognition of his research on grouse and their natural enemies in 2002; and received the Laurent Perrier Award for Game Conservation in 1985. In 1992, his book, "Grouse in Space and Time," was named "Book of the Year" by The Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom. Hudson has published over 220 scientific papers and has authored or edited 5 books.

Prior to joining the Penn State faculty in July 2002, Hudson was at the University of Stirling in Scotland, where he held a Personal Chair in Animal Ecology from 1998 to 2002 and was a Reader in wildlife epidemiology from 1995 to 1998. From 1979 to 1995, he worked in the Highlands of Scotland as a research fellow and was in charge of research for the Upland Research Group with the Game Conservancy Trust. Hudson earned a doctoral degree in zoology at the University of Oxford in 1979, where he studied the population dynamics of seabirds. He earned a bachelor's degree in zoology at the University of Leeds in 1974.

The Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science is a program of the Penn State Eberly College of Science that is designed for the enjoyment and education of residents of the central Pennsylvania area and beyond. The 2011 series features Penn State faculty members in the Eberly College of Science and the College of Agricultural Sciences who participate in collaborative research in Penn State's Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences. For more information or access assistance, contact the Eberly College of Science Office of Media Relations and Public Information by telephone at 814-863-0901 or by e-mail at

  • Peter Hudson

Last Updated August 10, 2015