Date of Award

January 2021

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Vasilis Vasiliou

Second Advisor

Lucas Joppa


In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the increasing frequency with which zoonotic diseases of pandemic potential have emerged in recent decades, it is vital to seek new methods of preventing disease outbreaks before they occur. Novel information age technologies have the potential to change the game for infectious disease outbreak monitoring. This paper addresses the overall opportunity that exists for biome surveillance as a means for health monitoring, particularly the way that the domains of technological and biological sciences can unite to prevent the next pandemic before it gets a chance to take hold. This report outlines the numerous methods that exist to connect biological health to human health with technology as an intermediary. There are technologies that can monitor at either the individual level or on the scale of entire habitats, either remotely or on-site, and through either invasive measurements or non-invasive sensing. The key opportunities in this space and important next steps are as follows. First, it is vital to integrate predictive capabilities into existing disease mapping and tracking tools. Second, it is necessary to explicitly outline biological health indicators for inclusion in technological processes. Third, we must strengthen methods to quantitatively assess biodiversity loss. Fourth, we should improve indices for species occurrence, leaf area, taxonomic diversity, vegetation height, and above-ground biomass. Fifth, there is a need to refine spatially-explicit and temporally-effective ecosystem health assessments. Last, but certainly not least, it is of the utmost importance to enhance and develop more precise viral sequencing capabilities. If all of these goals are achieved, we will be in a much better position to prevent and respond to future infectious disease outbreaks and to protect the health of human populations around the world.


This is an Open Access Thesis.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access