Professional summary

Research Interests

My research interest and expertise lies in the biology and ecology of arthropod vectors and the pathogens they transmit.

Currently, I am part of an Indo-UK One Health research collaboration focused on the tick-transmitted haemorrhagic Kyasanur Forest Disease. This zoononis affects low-income communities in the Western Ghats forests in southwest India. The project takes an interdisciplinary approach to understand both ecological and social risk factors for zoonotic diseases risk and will co-produce decision support tools and guidance for the public health, animal health and forestry sectors to help communities avoid exposure to the Kyasanur Forest Disease virus.
Before, I was involved in research projects on biting midges (Culicoides) aimed to better our understanding of how midge-borne disease are transmitted and spread amongst livestock herds in the UK. I have worked on the ecology of mosquitoes and the population structure, phylogeny and evolution of various parasites, tick-borne bacterial and viral pathogens.

I am part of the Environmental Change Network (ECN), a long-term monitoring project set up in the 1990ies to help detect and understand environmental change and its ecological impacts.
At Wytham, the recent arrival of Hymenoscyphus fraxineus, a fungal disease that is expected to cause large-scale dieback of the forest's European ash stands, has led to an interdisciplinary collaboration with Oxford University and University College London that aims to track the shifting ecosystem ecology under natural progression of the pathogen-induced mass tree mortality.

Current and recent research projects
Since 2020      IndiaZooRisk+: Using OneHealth approaches to understand and co-develop interventions for zoonotic diseases
                        affecting forest communities in India (MRC Global Health and Context MR/T029846/1).
Since 2020      The multi-trophic impact of ash dieback (NERC standard grant NE/T007648/1).
Since 2017      Optimising forest benefits whilst minimising impacts of emerging zoonotic diseases: co-developing an interdisciplinary tool for forests in India
                        (MRC Global Challenges Research Fund project MR/P024335/1).
Since 2013      Environmental Change Network (ECN) long-term monitoring of fauna, flora, climate, athmosphere and water
                        at Wytham Woods (current funded by  UKSCaPE 06953 LTS-S ).

2017 - 2018     Promoting resilience to livestock and human pathogens by improving forecasting systems
                        (National Capability-funded Overseas Development Activity project NEC06476).
2015 – 2017    Identifying drivers of vector-borne disease transmission at the interface between managed
                        and natural ecosystems (NC-funded project NEC05100).
2013 – 2014    Understanding the role of deer in vector-borne disease incursions - mapping how seasonal and spatial hotspots of contact
                        between wild and domestic ruminants and vectors alter with landscape and climate change (NC-funded project NEC04743).

Specialist Expertise

  • Ecology of vectors and arthropod-borne diseases
  • Morphological and molecular taxonomy of UK mosquitoes, biting midges, and ticks
  • Phylogeography, molecular ecology and evolution of vector-borne pathogens
  • Laboratory techniques applied in molecular biology, microbiology, virology, and histology
  • Field experimental design and execution
  • Environmental Change Network (ECN) monitoring of woodland and grassland flora and fauna

Brief CV

  • Since 2003      CEH Oxford and Wallingford, Scientific Officer
  • 1999 - 2003     Oxford University, Zoology Department, D.Phil student
  • 1997 - 1999     Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, Department of Biology Silwood Park, Research assistant


1991-1997 Diplom-Biologie (MSc in biology) Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, Germany

Selected publications

  • Burthe, S.J., S.M. Schäfer, F.A. Asaaga, N. Balakrishnan, M.M. Chanda, N. Darshan, S.L. Hoti, S.K. Kiran, T. Seshadri, P.N. Srinivas, A.T. Vanak, and B.V. Purse. 2021. Reviewing the ecological evidence-base for management of emerging tropical zoonoses: Kyasanur Forest Disease in India as a case study. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, in press
  • Mignotte A., […], S.M. Schäfer, Z. Ozoliņa, Z. Segliņa, Z. Vatansever, and K. Huber. 2020. The tree that hides the forest: cryptic diversity and phylogenetic relationships in the Palaearctic vector Obsoletus/Scoticus Complex (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) at the European level. Parasites & Vectors, 13(1):265. doi: 10.1186/s13071-020-04114-1
  • Jarvie H.P., D.W. Pallett, S.M. Schäfer, M.L. Macrae, M.J. Bowes, P. Farrand, A.C. Warwick, S.M. King, R.J. Williams, L. Armstrong, D.J.E. Nicholls, W.D. Lord, D. Rylett, C. Roberts, and N. Fisher. 2020. Biogeochemical and climate drivers of wetland phosphorus and nitrogen release: Implications for nutrient legacies and eutrophication risk. Journal of Environmental Quality. 49(6):1703-1716. doi: 10.1002/jeq2.20155
  • Purse, B.V., N. Darshan, G.S. Kasabi, F. Gerard, A. Samrat, C. George, A.T. Vanak, M. Oommen, M. Rahman, S.J. Burthe, J. C. Young, P.N. Srivinas, S.M. Schäfer, P.A. Henrys, V.K. Sandhya, M.M. Chanda, M.V. Murhekar, S.l. Hoti, and S.K. Kiran. 2020. Predicting disease risk areas through co-production of spatial models: The example of Kyasanur Forest Disease in India’s forest landscapes. PloS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 14(4): e0008179.
  • Martinou, A.F., S.M. Schäfer, R. Bueno Mari, I. Angelidou, K. Erguler, J. Fawcett, J., M.  Ferraguti, R. Foussadier, T. Gkotsi, C. Martinos, M. Schaefer, F. Schaffner, J. Peyton, B. Purse, D. Wright, and H. Roy. 2020. A call to arms: Setting the framework for a code of practice for mosquito management in European wetlands. Journal of Applied Ecology, 57:1012-1019. doi:10.1111/1365-2664.13631