Dr. Nicholas 'Nico' Preston is the Director of Data Science and Research Technology (DART) at EcoHealth Alliance. His research in computational disease ecology (a blend of ecology, computing, and health) combines data mining, web technology, and statistical modeling to assess infectious disease threats to human, animal, and ecosystem health. Through emerging web technologies and cloud computing, Dr. Preston builds complex computer models and biosurveillance platforms to monitor global ecosystems and understand how they respond to human impacts. Dr. Preston is currently exploring global media and field data to identify new diseases, pathogens, or environmental risks.
Dr. Preston's doctoral training was in ecosystem ecology at the University of Wisconsin - Madison Center for Limnology (CFL), with a certificate in global health and postdoctoral work in global health informatics at the UW-Madison Global Health Institute (GHI) and Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE) . His postdoctoral work on HealthScapes, and underlying dotSkapes technology, has continued at EcoHealth Alliance through web platforms designed to support and enhance collaborative global environmental health research.
"My work at EHA unravels patterns in data to better understand the relationship between global ecosystems and human health. This, in turn, helps us set priorities for conservation and disease surveillance." - Nicholas Preston, PhD
Nico founded the DART lab at EcoHealth Alliance - a dynamic team of data scientists and software developers that draw upon interdisciplinary backgrounds in ecology, computer science, and health. The lab is developing flagship projects, such as the Sicki web encyclopedia, to pinpoint the origins of infectious diseases by curating and analyzing historic disease media through dynamic web applications. Sicki builds upon EcoHealth Alliance's expertise in developing 'hotspot' maps of infectious diseases. This historic perspective from Sicki informs our field programs and virtual biosurveillance laboratories. The next generation of technology being developed combines recommendation engines, adaptive models, and decision support tools to monitor, detect, and diagnose emerging threats in real-time dashboards for analysts.