Please meet our new researcher: Maria Bekker-Nielsen Dunbar
Maria is an incoming researcher at the OsloMet Center for Research on Pandemics & Society (PANSOC). Maria graduated with an MSc in Statistics from the University of Copenhagen in 2016 and will defend her PhD thesis on 11th of July 2023 in Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Zurich which she started in 2020. The topic of her PhD is time-varying transmission weights in endemic-epidemic models which she has applied to COVID-19 surveillance and leveraged to examine policy questions such as what is the impact of social distancing measures and would a different vaccine distribution scheme have led to greater societal protection.
She has a keen interest in environmental epidemiology and infectious disease modelling. She has previously worked at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Public Health England, and the World Health Organization (WHO) and has enjoyed learning how interdisciplinary research is used in policy making at various governmental levels. At ECDC her focus was on vaccine-preventable diseases, particularly modelling herpes zoster and understanding how national immunisation task action groups operated in European Union member states.
At Public Health England she did a project on the black death modelling the risk of death in periods of known outbreaks compared with periods without and this interest in historical epidemiology was further honed during her time at the University of Zurich where she did a project on syphilis in the sixteenth century constructed around stigma.
Maria will be working with Svenn-Erik Mamelund and Jessica Dimka at PANSOC and will be developing a grant application during her time at OsloMet. Her current research interests are environment, infectious diseases and vaccines, public health emergencies, and disasters (both natural and human-caused) as well as open science and good scientific practices.