Penn State Science
Marcel Salathé

Marcel Salathé

Main Content

Assistant Professor of Biology and Adjunct Faculty of Computer Science and Engineering

W-251 Millennium Science Complex
University Park, PA 16802
Phone: (814) 867-4431


  1. Ph.D., ETH Zürich, Switzerland, 2007
  2. M.Sc., University of Basel, Switzerland, 2003

Postdoc Training

  1. Postdoctoral research, Stanford University, 2008-2010
  2. Postdoctoral research, ETH Zürich, Switzerland, 2007-2008

Honors and Awards

  1. Society in Science Branco Weiss Fellowship, 2008-until 2013

Research Interests

Marcel Salathé is generally interested in how human social dynamics affect disease dynamics (and vice versa). After receiving his PhD from the ETH in Zürich, Switzerland, he spent two years as a postdoctoral research fellow at Stanford University where he studied the effect of human contact network structure on infectious disease spread. His research group currently uses complex systems models, wireless sensor network technology and large-scale data sets from online social media sites to analyze the spread of disease and health behaviors on social networks. 

His overall goal is to develop a research program that uses a computational complex systems approach to reduce the burden of disease in the human population. This research program includes scholarly work, education, and service to the community.

The way he develops his research program is rooted in four observations (in no particular order of priority).

  1. Fundamentally, health and disease are biological phenomena, but ignoring the effect of human behaviors on health and disease outcomes would be ignoring the main drivers of health and disease dynamics in the 21st century.
  2. The internet – in all its flavors, ranging from static websites, to communication tools such as email, to social media, to the mobile internet (smartphones, sensors, etc.) – has become a source of information about human behaviors at an unparalleled scale. This opens up completely new research fields.
  3. The ability to collect, mine, filter, analyze and visual enormously large data sets from this data source is one of the great practical and educational challenges of our times.
  4. Programming is becoming the lingua franca of science.

Selected Publications

Salathé, M. and S. Khandelwal. 2011. Assessing vaccination sentiments with online social media: Implications for infectious disease dynamics and control. PLoS Computational Biology 7(10): e1002199

Salathé, M., M. Kazandjieva, J. W. Lee, P. Levis, M. W. Feldman, and J. H. Jones. 2010. A high-resolution human contact network for infectious disease transmission. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 107(51): 22020-22025.

Salkeld, D. J., M. Salathé, P. Stapp, and J. H. Jones. 2010. Plague outbreaks in prairie dog populations: Percolation thresholds of alternate host abundance explain epizootics.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 107(32): 14247-14250.

Funk, S., M. Salathé, V. A. A. Jansen. 2010. Modelling the influence of human behaviour on the spread of infectious diseases: A review. Journal of the Royal Society Interface 7(50): 1247-1256.

Salathé, M. and J. H. Jones. 2010. Dynamics and control of diseases in networks with community structure. PLoS Computational Biology 6(4): e1000736.

Jones, J. H. and M. Salathé. 2009. Early assessment of anxiety and behavioral response to novel swine-origin influenza A(H1N1). PLoS ONE 4(12): e8032.

Salathé, M., J. Van Cleve, and M. W. Feldman. 2009. Evolution of stochastic switching rates in asymmetric fitness landscapes. Genetics 182(4): 1159-1164.

Salathé, M. and S. Bonhoeffer. 2008. The effect of opinion clustering on disease outbreaks. Journal of the Royal Society Interface 5: 1505-1508.

Salathé, M., R. D. Kouyos, and S. Bonhoeffer. 2008. The state of affairs in the kingdom of the Red Queen. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 23(8): 439-445.

Salathé, M., R. M. May, and S. Bonhoeffer. 2005. The evolution of network topology by selective removal. Journal of The Royal Society Interface 2(5): 533-536.


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