Ayesha Mahmud. When a megacity goes on holiday: The impact of population mobility on the spread of local epidemics

via Zoom

Fluctuations in human density and mobility are important drivers of epidemics, particularly in the context of large cities in low- and middle-income countries, which can act to amplify and spread local epidemics. In this talk, I will be discussing some of my recent work looking at the impact of travel on the spread of infectious diseases (including COVID-19) in Bangladesh. This work highlights the impact of large-scale population movements, particularly during holidays, on the spread of infectious diseases, and demonstrates the value of real-time data from mobile phones and social media for outbreak analysis and forecasting.


Ayesha Mahmud is a demographer, and is broadly interested in the interplay between human population changes, environmental factors, and infectious disease dynamics. Her research draws on theory and methods from demography and disease ecology, to answer questions such as - why do outbreaks occur at certain times of the year? How and why does the mortality burden of infectious diseases vary over time? How do population travel patterns drive the spatial dynamics of outbreaks? How will global environmental and demographic changes alter the landscape of infectious disease burden in the future? She uses statistical methods and biologically mechanistic models to answer these questions in the context of multiple diseases in countries in Asia, Africa, and South America, using data from disease surveillance systems, hospital databases, climate models, human mobility data, and population surveys and censuses. Prior to coming to Berkeley, Mahmud was a Rockefeller Foundation Planetary Health Fellow at Harvard University. She received my Ph.D. in Demography from Princeton University in 2017.