Faustos Bustos—a 2020 graduate of Berkeley Public Health with a PhD in epidemiology, where he studied under Eva Harris—is the 2021 recipient of the Society for Epidemiologic Research Tyroler Student Prize for a paper that was part of his dissertation. This award is given annually to recognize an emerging scientist who has made an exceptional contribution to the practice of epidemiology.
His winning paper looks at risk-of-disease patterns during epidemics. “When epidemics of new pathogens that can cause asymptomatic infections (like SARS-CoV-2 and Zika) are mapped at the city, state, or county level, they are often summarized by the incidence rate: cases of illness in the total population. This measure is often interpreted as a risk, even though 1) everyone is at risk of infection and 2) only infected persons, not the entire population, are at risk for disease occurrence,” Bustos explained. “If the risk of infection and the risk of disease given infection (cases of illness in the infected population) are mapped, they reveal different spatial patterns.”
“I’m honestly still in shock over winning,” Bustos said. “This ongoing project has taken longer than six years to complete, so I’m thrilled to receive the award just as the project is coming to a close.”
Bustos is currently the program manager and the director of epidemiology and statistics at the Sustainable Sciences Institute, where he conducts research into the epidemiological, clinical, and spatial aspects of Zika, chikungunya, and dengue virus epidemics in Managua, Nicaragua. He also actively conducts research on influenza, hemorrhagic fevers, and metabolic syndrome and provides epidemiological and biostatistical support to colleagues at the Harris Laboratory at Berkeley Public Health.