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Cambridge Global Food Security

A Strategic Research Initiative of the University of Cambridge

Studying at Cambridge


Dr Nik Cunniffe

Dr Nik Cunniffe

University Lecturer in Mathematical Biology, Department of Plant Sciences

Office Phone: 01223 333954


Expertise in: - mathematical modelling the spread, detection, evolution and control of crop and tree diseases

Looking for collaborators in: - remote sensing for early detection of disease - using disease modelling in precision agricultural applications

Departments and Institutes

Department of Plant Sciences:

Research Interests

Mathematical modelling of the spread, detection, evolution and control of plant and tree diseases. Theoretical work focuses on modelling disease spread, including stochastic and spatial models. Applied work concentrates on fitting simulation models to pathogen spread data, to understand how detection and control can be optimised, and on developing computational techniques for efficient simulation and parameterisation of spatially-explicit stochastic models at very large spatial scales. 


invasion of new or recurrent animal and plant disease ; food security ; Risk assessment ; plant disease modelling ; control of antibiotic and pesticide resistance for plant and animal diseases ; control of plant disease ; infectious diseases ; plant disease resistance

Key Publications

Cunniffe, N.J., Cobb, R.C., Meentemeyer, R.K., Rizzo, D.R. and Gilligan, C.A. (2016) Modeling when, where and how to manage a forest epidemic, motivated by sudden oak death in California Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 

Thompson, R.N., Gilligan, C.A. and Cunniffe, N.J. (2016) Detecting presymptomatic infection is necessary to forecast major epidemics in the earliest stages of infectious disease outbreaks PLoS Computational Biology.

Thompson, R.N., Cobb, R.C., Gilligan, C.A. and Cunniffe, N.J. (2016) Management of invading pathogens should be informed by epidemiology rather than administrative boundaries Ecological Modelling

Cunniffe, N.J., Stutt, R.O.J.H., DeSimone, R.E., Gottwald, T.R. and Gilligan, C.A. (2015) Optimising and communicating options for the control of invasive plant disease when there is epidemiological uncertainty PLoS Computational Biology.

Cunniffe N.J., Koskella, B., Metcalf, C.J.E., Parnell, S., Gottwald, T.R. and Gilligan, C.A. (2015) Thirteen challenges in modelling plant diseases Epidemics.

For full list of publications, please see Google Scholar