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Sarah Perkins

Dr Sarah Perkins


School of Biosciences

+44 29208 70490
Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX
Media commentator
Available for postgraduate supervision


My current research focuses on:

  • The role of individuals in disease persistence and invasion
  • Social networks and infectious disease dynamics
  • Interactions between macrobiota (helminths) and microbiota (bacteria)
  • Wildlife diseases
  • Citizen science

For more details of my citizen science research see























Book sections


I use a combination of field and laboratory experiments to determine the role of variation in infectious diseases.

What is the role of individuals in disease persistence and invasion?

Individuals within a population are not equal; they differ in their exposure and susceptibility to parasites. These heterogeneities in infection status can create "super-spreaders": hosts that have a disproportionately high contribution to the number of infective stages (often, 20% of the host population can account for at least 80% of pathogen and parasite transmission). Using parasites of small mammals and lab-insect systems I determine whether the most infected are also the most connected. Using these data I investigate the effect of co-infection, contact rates and infection load on super-spreading.

How do social networks alter disease dynamics?

Contacts between individuals are not equal – social network theory offers methods for visualizing and quantifying variation in contacts. I use social network analyses to determine the role of individuals in disease transmission and assess how epizootics and disease treatment can alter the contact structure of populations.

How do parasites interact?

Parasites within an individual do not function in isolation. I use wild rodents as a model system to study interactions between the macrobiota (helminths) and microbiota (bacteria). This work is carried out in collaboration with the Fondazione Edmund Mach as part of an 'incoming research team' grant.

Citizen Science

Our group runs a citizen science project to collate wildlife kill – 'Road Lab'.  Members of the public send us the location of UK wildlife roadkill – birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles. We use GIS (Geographic Information Systems) to map where and when wildlife mortality occurs. Please see our website for more information


My current research is funded by:

  • Natural Environment Research Council
  • KESS
  • Welsh Government


I teach on the following modules:

  • BI2131 - Animal Diversity and Adaptation (module lead)
  • BI3155 - Infection Biology and Epidemiology
  • BI4002 - Advanced Research Methods
  • BI21334 - Ecology and Conservation (Marine Biology Field Course)
  • BI3001 - Biosciences Final Year Project


I studied Environmental Science at Plymouth University after which I worked for the UK Wildlife Trusts as a Conservation Officer. I started my research career several years later with a NERC Fellowship at Aberdeen University studying for a MSc Ecology. After this, I completed my PhD at Stirling University with Prof. Peter Hudson, studying the ecological dynamics of disease with a NERC Fellowship based at the Centro di Ecologia Alpina in the Italian Alps. My post-doc took me to the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics (CIDD) at Penn State University. I returned to the UK in 2009 to start a Marie Curie Fellowship at Cardiff University, after completion of which I became a Lecturer at Cardiff University.


Postgraduate students

Current lab group

  • Sarah Raymond - Keeping habitats connected: Does wildlife mitigation work? NERC GW4+ studentship, 2020-2024.
  • Rhodri Phillips - Habitat connectivity. KESS funded MPhil.
  • Agnethe Olsen  - Bridging ecology and technology: Using AI to track fish health. NERC GW4+ studentship 2020-2024
  • Ayman Asiri - The 'smell of infection' - detecting infectious diseases and determining mechanisms underlying the spread of disease, 2022-2026
  • Neil Cook - New technologies for rapid biodiversity assessments of individuals, populations and ecosytems. KESS Funded studentship, 2019-2024.
  • Sarah Morgan - Disease Ecology and Science Communication. part-time, 2019-2025

Prospective students

Please contact me if you are interested in graduate opportunities or research and field experience. I occasionally have funds for summer students and short-term research projects.

Graduated students

  • Kath Whittey (PhD) - The Extended Ecology of the Sharknose Goby, 2018-2022.
  • Sophie-Lee Lane (PhD) – Reintroducing Eagles to Wales. KESS funded, 2017-2020.
  • Sophie Watson (PhD) - Microbiota-macrobiota interactions in Arctic wildlife. NERC funded, 2016-2020.
  • Katie Dunkley (PhD) - Cleaner-client interactions in the Caribbean. NERC funded. 2016-2019.
  • Amy Schwartz (PhD) - The impact of roads on UK widlife. KESS funded, 2016-2019.
  • Chris Conway (MRes) – The smell of infection.
  • Emma Gillingham (PhD) – Climate change and parasitism (now at Public Health England)
  • Emily Pascoe (PhD) – Macro-microbiome interactions (now a post-doc at UC Davis, USA)
  • Erin Macdonald (MBiol) - Using Galleria spp. as a model system for in vivo disease dynamics


I run the UK's largest data collection of wildlife roadkill as a citizen science project. Follow our work at