Dr Stephen Parnell

Lecturer in Spatial Epidemiology

Office Times

“Please contact me via email for an appointment”


I initially studied for a BSc (Hons) in Ecological Science at the University of Edinburgh where I became interested in population dynamics.  I increasingly used quantitative methods in my research particularly in the use of mathematical and computational population modelling.  I went on to complete my PhD at the University of Cambridge in mathematical biology where my thesis focused on the population dynamics and management of pesticide resistance in agriculture.  Following this I spent two years as a Postdoctoral researcher at the US Department of Agriculture in Florida where I developed models of invasive diseases of citrus and worked closely with regulators to inform disease mitigation strategies.  I then spent seven years as a Research Scientist at the BBSRC institute Rothamsted Research in Hertfordshire before moving to Salford as Lecturer in Spatial Epidemiology in 2014.


My teaching interests are in population dynamics, epidemiology and spatial analysis methods.

Research Interests

My research interests are in epidemiology and the use of modelling and spatial analysis methods to better understand disease spread and control.  I have a particular focus on plant disease epidemiology and the use modelling and statistical techniques to solve problems in plant disease management. Plant disease epidemics are a considerable problem both in natural environments and in commercial agriculture. The overall aim of my work is to better understand epidemiology to inform regulatory and industry decision making and I work closely with national and international bodies such as Defra, the US Department of Agriculture and the European Food Safety Authority. A key research focus is the application of probability theory and stochastic modelling to test monitoring and control strategies for invading epidemics. I address practical questions such as: How should we design a monitoring programme to maximise the probability to detect an epidemic soon after it begins? How can we be sure that a region is disease free if nothing is detected in a sampling program? How does the interplay between epidemics and human behaviour influence a control program?

Qualifications and Memberships

PhD in Mathematical Biology, University of Cambridge (2005)

BSc Ecological Science (Resource Management Hons), University of Edinburgh (2001)


  • Cunniffe N.J., Koskella B., Metcalf C.J.E, Parnell S, Gottwald T.R. and Gilligan C.A.  2014.  Thirteen challenges in modelling plant diseases. Epidemics. In Press. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.epidem.2014.06.002
  • Parry, M. Gibson, G.J., Parnell, S., Gottwald, T.R., Irey, M.S., Gast, T.C. and Gilligan, C.A. 2014. Bayesian inference for an emerging arboreal epidemic in the presence of control. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) 111(17): 6258-6262. http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1310997111
  • Parnell, S., Gottwald, T.R., Riley, T.R. and van den Bosch, F. 2014. A generic risk-based surveying method for invading plant pathogens. Ecological Applications 24:779–790 http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/13-0704.1
  • Parnell, S., Gottwald, T.R., Gilks, W.R. and van den Bosch, F. 2012. Estimating the incidence of an epidemic when it is first discovered and the design of early detection monitoring. Journal of Theoretical Biology 305:30-36. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtbi.2012.03.009
  • Parnell, S., Gilligan, C.A., van den Bosch, F. and Gottwald, T.R. 2009. Optimal strategies for the eradication of Asiatic citrus canker in heterogeneous host landscapes. Phytopathology 99:1370-1376. http://dx.doi.org/10.1094/PHYTO-99-12-1370
  • Parnell, S., van den Bosch, F., and Gilligan, C.A. 2006. Large-scale fungicide spray heterogeneity and the regional spread of resistant pathogen strains. Phytopathology 96:549-555. http://dx.doi.org/10.1094/PHYTO-96-0549