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Hudson Named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

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10 December 2012

Peter J. Hudson, the Willaman Chair in Biology at Penn State University, has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Election as an AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed by peers upon members of the AAAS, the world's largest general scientific society and the publisher of the journal Science.

Hudson is the founding director of the Penn State Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics, an affiliate of the Penn State Institutes of the Environment, and the Director of the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences at Penn State. His research combines fieldwork, laboratory studies, and mathematical modeling to explore disease dynamics -- how parasites and pathogens flow through animal populations, who infects whom, which individuals are important for disease transmission, and the consequences of infection. His studies include not only the diseases that affect wildlife, but also the role of wildlife in transmitting diseases to other animals, including humans. He has been involved in a study in northern Italy on tick-borne encephalitis, a disease that causes significant mortality among children in southern and eastern Europe. Since arriving at Penn State, Hudson has initiated studies on how parasites shape the changes in abundance of mouse populations, how diseases invade reintroduced species such as wolves in Yellowstone National Park and bighorn sheep in Hells Canyon, Oregon. He has major funding to study the spread of infections in desert tortoises in the Mojave desert and the emergence of the hendra virus in Australia, and he is part of a Penn State team reconstructing the evolution of the myxoma virus in rabbit populations. He also is an adjunct faculty member at the Nelson Mandela Institute of Science and Technology, where he is helping to establish a research group for studying infectious diseases that affect the African continent.

Hudson probably is best known for his extensive studies of the dynamics of red-grouse populations in Scotland and England, where his innovative and large-scale experiments demonstrated that parasites were important in driving population cycles in this species -- a test of a fundamentally important theory in population dynamics.

During the bovine-tuberculosis scare and the start of the foot-and-mouth epidemic in the 2001, Hudson served as a scientific adviser to the Prince of Wales and to The House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture. He has been on the editorial board of many parasitological and ecological journals. He has organized many professional conferences and has been instrumental in running an annual meeting, "The Ecology of Infectious Diseases," which returns to Penn State in 2013. Since becoming the director of the Huck Institutes, Hudson has initiated a number of new initiatives to improve academic excellence; he initiated the infectious-disease cluster hire and the genomics cluster hire and was responsible for the construction of the Life Science wing of Penn State's Millenium Science Complex.

In 2008, Hudson was elected a Fellow of the The Royal Society, the United Kingdom's National Academy of Science. In 2010, he was elected a Corresponding Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scotland's national academy of science and letters. Among Hudson's research honors are a 2005 Carlton Herman Award from the U.S. Wildlife Disease Association and a 1985 Laurent Perrier Award for Game Conservation. In 2002, he was named an honorary member of the British Falconers Club in recognition of his research on grouse and their natural enemies. In 1992, his book, Grouse in Space and Time, was listed as "Environmental Book of the Year" by The Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom. Hudson has published over 240 scientific papers and has authored or edited 5 books.

Prior to joining the Penn State faculty in July 2002, Hudson was at the University of Stirling in Scotland, where he held a Personal Chair in Animal Ecology from 1998 to 2002 and was a reader in wildlife epidemiology from 1995 to 1998. From 1979 to 1995, Hudson worked in the Highlands of Scotland as a research fellow and was in charge of research for the Upland Research Group with the Game Conservancy Trust.

In 1979, Hudson earned a doctoral degree in zoology at the University of Oxford, where he studied the population dynamics of seabirds. He earned a bachelor's degree with honors in zoology at the University of Leeds in 1974.

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