Profile: Robert Wallace

Dr. Robert G. Wallace, Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, University of Minnesota, USA. Rob’s current research interest, in collaboration with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, is the phylogeography of bird flu.

Like many of his fellow native New Yorkers, Rob Wallace first learned his geography in the streets: grid system, subway maps, and a hierarchy of regional allegiances, including block, neighborhood, borough, and city. Rob subsequently earned his bachelors at SUNY Binghamton and a doctorate in biology at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Rob describes himself as a public health phylogeographer. He uses genetic sequences to track the evolution of infectious diseases over geographic space. In addition to the H5N1 project, Rob has also mapped out a sociogeography of AIDS incidence in New York City, showing declines in AIDS cases to be associated with a complex of variables including income, race, community-level stress, and neighborhood histories. With matrix population modeling Rob has explored the evolution of HIV life history in response to public health interventions, including antiretrovirals. He has developed methodologies for tracking the ‘deep-time’ phylogeographic coevolution of Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus and human populations in Uganda. With warps analysis from geometric morphometrics he developed a way of studying epistatic change in spatial data

Rob has published in journals as disparate as the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Journal of Theoretical Biology, Social Science and Medicine, Ecological Modelling, and the Journal of the National Medical Association. With his parents, Rob has a book coming out next year, published by Springer, on farming human pathogens.

Rob may be contacted at

Updated: December 2008