Katelyn M. Gostic

James S. McDonnell Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow

University of Chicago


I am a McDonnell Foundation Postdoc working with Sarah Cobey and Patrick Wilson at the University of Chicago. Previously, I received my PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from UCLA, supervised by Jamie Lloyd-Smith, and an AB in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Princeton University.

I use mathematical and computaional models to study how infectious diseases emerge and spread.

One focus of my reserach is understanding how early childhood influenza exposures shape lifelong immune memory. Individuals seem to gain particularly strong, lifelong protection against influenza viruses on the same branch of the genetic tree as the virus that caused their first infection in childhood. But this strong memory may come at the expense of equally strong protection against influenza viruses encountered later in life, if those viruses fall on a different branch of the genetic tree. My PhD research showed that birth year-specific differences in immune imprinting predictably impact which cohorts are at greatest risk of severe cases during influenza outbreaks. As a postdoc, I am working to understand how these birth year-specific biases in immune memory develop, and how they interact with influenza vaccination.

I am broadly interested in modeling research with applications in the realm of public health or wildlife disease. Working with collaborators, I have helped build bespoke models to analyze experimental infection data. These projects have helped us unsderstand how best to assess the transmissibility of emerging avian influenza viruses, and why Leptopspira (a bacterial pathogen) infects some but not all people living in contaminated environments. I have also helped develop theory to assess the potential effectiveness of traveler sceeening during infectious disease outbreaks.


Jan. 28 2020 - New preprint! Model to assess effectiveness of traveller screening for 2019 novel coronavirus (nCoV), and accompanying Shiny app by Ana Gomez of the Lloyd-Smith Lab.

Dec. 19 2019 - Our study on how imprinting shapes risk from seasonal influenza just came out in PLOS Pathogens. Check it out!

Dec. 6 2019 - Seeing lots of great talks and eating lots of barbecue at Epidemics 2019 in Charleston!

Nov. 12 2019 - At the Gates Foundation today, discussing the idea of using Imprinting to develop better influenza vaccines.

Aug. 23 2019 - I'm starting a new postdoc in a few weeks! Excited to be working with Sarah Cobey and Patrick Wilson at the University of Chicago.

Aug. 2, 2019 - I'm officially done with my PhD!

June 2019 - What an honor to give a talk at EEID this year! Always great discussions and great people at this meeting. Already looking forward to next time.