Fefferman, Nina H.
Ph.D., Tufts University, 2004
Professional Summary/CV [.PDF]
Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, New Brunswick; Rutgers
Areas of Interest
Complex Systems, Conservation Biology/Conservation Medicine, Evolutionary and Behavioral Sociobiology.
Mathematics and Biostatistics
Memberships and Professional Service
Advisory/Editorial Board Member, Annales Zoologici Fennici, 2006-present; Member,The Center for Dynamic Data Analysis – Dept. of Homeland Security CoE (DyDAN), The Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science (DIMACS), Society for Mathematical Biology, Wildlife Disease Association, International Union for the Study of Social Insects, Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, The International Environmetrics Society, and the Association for Women in Mathematics; Subject Matter Expert, Innate Immunity
and Biodefense, National Defense University, 2004.
Grants, Honors, and Awards
Tufts Summer Scholars Award, 2006; National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Grant, Portrayal T-cell Memory: Robustness and Complexity, as part of an NIH Center Grant, "Robust T-cell Immunity to Influenza in Human Populations," 2004-present; NIH Supplemental Funding for Researchers with Disabilities Grant, 2003-2004; National Science Foundation VIGRE Grant, 1999-2001; Garden State Scholarship, 1995-1999.
Academic Interests and Plans
I am interested in the application of mathematical and computational models to biological systems. In my research, I work on a broad variety of systems, both in my own lab and in collaboration with others at many different institutions.
My research usually falls into one or both of two categories: Conservation Biology/Conservation Medicine (the interface of epidemiology and conservation biology) and Evolutionary and Behavioral Sociobiology. I am interested in the effects of animal behavior, ecology and infectious disease epidemiology on one another. I model disease in both human and animal populations, and am very interested in how disease and disease-related behavioral ecology can affect population persistence. Some of my current projects focus on the modeling of endangered populations of tortoises to determine effective courses of management, social insect populations and their susceptibility to pathogens based on their behavior and nesting ecology, the effects of stress on populations of iguanas, and how best to maintain societal infrastructure in the face of pandemic disease.
Mathematically, I am interested in Complex Systems: the mathematics of studying the conclusions or outputs of systems where each component is relatively simple (governed by a small set of logical rules), but when you put a lot of them together they react to each other and create highly organized systems and incredibly complex behaviors. Not only are these systems fascinating and beautiful by themselves, but they have direct applications to the types of biological problems mentioned above. For example, in social insect biology, individual honey bees forage for nectar and communicate information about their foraging success to foraging sister bees, but each bee decides independently for herself where to go to next and somehow, as a whole, the nest forages very (mathematically) efficiently!