Giulio De Leo
Professor of Biology at Hopkins Marine Station
Senior Fellow - Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment

Susanne (Sanna) Sokolow
Postdoctoral Scholar, Hopkins Marine Station


Schistosomiasis is a debilitating parasitic infection affecting more than 220 million people in the developing world, especially where dams and water projects have greatly expanded freshwater habitat for snails, the parasite’s intermediate hosts. Traditional sanitary interventions for the control and eradication of this disease have relied on repeated drug treatments, which invariably end up in reinfection, as parasite reservoirs remain undisturbed in the aquatic environment. Controlling snail populations offers a logical means towards eliminating the disease, but few environmentally-safe and effective snail control options exist. We present a new biological control approach based on the reintroduction of native crustacean predators (prawns) of snails in small aquaculture facilities. We use the results of field studies, laboratory experiments and modeling projections to show how this method might offer a win-win solution by a) amplifying the positive effect of traditional drug treatments, b) possibly eradicating the disease from some areas, and c) offering a source of protein and marketable goods for the local populations.

Brief Bios

Giulio De Leo
My primary research interest is in the use of ecological theory, particularly life history-based models, in population dynamics and management. I use advanced mathematical and computational techniques to identify basic first-principles of the ecology of infectious diseases, to explore costs and benefits of alternative policies for natural resource management in a multi-objective, multi-attribute framework and to analyse population dynamics and extinction risk of endangered populations. My research focuses on population management in a variety of ways, including quantitative studies of real-world systems and purely theoretical studies that inform practical management approaches. My goal is to assess the effect of ecological and environmental heterogeneities on population dynamics and  management and to estimate key parameters that may be incorporated into population models useful for decision-making.

Much of my research is collaborative and ranges across taxa and disciplines. This is reflected in the diversity of journals and topics on which I published. My broad quantitative training has allowed me to research fundamental questions in quantitative ecology, such as those related to scaling laws in ecology and the analysis of population dynamics, as well as more applied questions on conservation of endangered species, fishery management and environmental impacts. I am especially interested in connecting academic science to decision tools and effective conservation practices. I worked extensively on the demography, conservation and management of  the European eel (A. anguilla) and the marble trout (S. marmoratus), the optimal bioeconomic management of mollusc farming and the development of Habitat Suitability models for the Manila clam T. philippinarum, the problem of algal bloom control in Adriatic coastal lagoons and the development of Rapid Assessment Methods to assess the  status of coastal lagoons throughout Italy. Recently, my work has also focused on the interactions between spatial networks of Marine Protected Areas and different schemes of fishery management, a problem that I am addressing both from a theoretical perspective and, specifically, for the abalone fishery of Isla de Nadividad in Mexico. 

Dr. Sanna Sokolow
I am a disease ecologist, and I'm very excited to be at Hopkins and talk more with everyone about getting involved in local projects related to disease issues.  My current and past work focuses on the ecology of infectious diseases of aquatic organisms, with projects related to diseases of reef-building coral in the Caribbean, global spread of avian influenza, and the ecology of a human parasitic disease called schistosomiasis in Africa.

You are invited to stay for a reception following the forum.