Steven C Le Comber
My work covers a wide range of subjects within evolutionary biology, including studies of spatial patterns in biology, notably in epidemiology and invasive species biology, and mathematical and computer models of molecular evolution.
Much of my current work focusses on geographic profiling, a statistical technique originally developed in criminology to prioritise large lists of suspects in cases of serial crime. Working with the technique’s inventor, Prof Kim Rossmo (Texas State), I have pioneered the introduction of geographic profiling to biology, in areas such as animal foraging (where it can be used to find animal nests or roosts using the locations of foraging sites as input), epidemiology (identifying disease sources from the addresses of infected individuals) and invasive species biology (using current locations to identify source populations). Work in my group – principally by Mark Stevenson and Bob Verity – has placed the model within a Bayesian framework, using a Dirichlet Process Mixture model that allows the technique to deal rigorously with data involving multiple sources, even when the true number of sources is unknown. Current areas of interest include epidemiology (with PhD student Catherine Smith and UCL’s Andrew Hayward and Hannah Fry) and conservation biology (with PhD student Sally Faulkner and the Institute of Zoology’s Trent Garner).