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Ferrari named director of Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics

18 March 2021
Matt Ferrari

Matthew Ferrari, Huck Career Development Professor and associate professor of biology at Penn State, has been appointed director of the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics (CIDD), effective March 19.

"Matt Ferrari is going to make an excellent CIDD director, given his experience in epidemiology and public health,” said outgoing CIDD Director Elizabeth McGraw, professor and Huck Scholar in Entomology. “I look forward to seeing the new directions CIDD will take under his leadership." 

McGraw, who has been leading CIDD since fall 2018, will transition to be the new head of the Penn State Department of Biology on April 1.

“Seventeen years ago, at its inception, CIDD was at the forefront of bringing together multiple disciplines in the life sciences to understand pathogen emergence and evolution,” said Ferrari. “After this year where the world has watched infectious disease science develop in real time, it is an honor to be able to support CIDD researchers to advance our science and our impact on global health.”

Ferrari’s research employs the mathematical and statistical tools of computational biology to understand patterns of disease incidence and the effects of heterogeneity across time and space, with an emphasis on ecological factors. His lab collaborates regularly with Doctors Without Borders to track incidents of measles in sub-Saharan Africa and with the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to monitor and improve childhood vaccination systems around the world. Additionally, Ferrari’s past endeavors include a highly successful MOOC (massively open online course) on infectious diseases that engaged students from around the globe. 

Over the past year, Ferrari has dramatically shifted the focus of his work, becoming very active in the local community’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He has consulted with Penn State and local government leaders on best practices for reducing infections on the University Park campus, across Centre County, and in the State College Area School District. 

As part of this effort, Ferrari continues to collaborate with colleagues from CIDD, the Social Science Research Institute, and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute to conduct the innovative Data 4 Action research project, which measures coronavirus impacts on both Penn State students and Centre County residents. 

“CIDD is one of the strongest interdisciplinary centers on campus and a world leader in our science space,” said Andrew Read, director of the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences and a former CIDD director himself. 

“Matt has been a highly innovative, key player at CIDD for many years, and I very much look forward to working with him in this new role, both as Huck director and as an active CIDD member going forward.”

Ferrari earned a doctoral degree in ecology from Penn State in 2006, master’s degrees in statistics (2002) and fisheries and wildlife management (1999) from Montana State University-Bozeman, and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Colby College in 1996.