The Martinez Lab

The Martinez Lab applies Ecology & Evolutionary Biology to Public Health to tackle big picture issues facing society.

What We Study

Photo by Mike Grippi.

About Dr. Martinez

Dr. Martinez is an infectious disease ecologist. She earned her Ph.D. in Ecology & Evolution in 2015 at the University of Michigan. She began her career as a NSF postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University followed by four years as an Assistant Professor at Columbia University, in the Mailman School of Publich Health. In summer 2021 she joined the faculty of Biology at Emory University. Her primary focus is understanding how ecology, social determinants of health, immunology, Climate Change, and demography intersect to shape health and disease. Another focus of her lab is deconstructing epidemics and seasonal phenomena. Supported by the NIH Director’s Early Independence Award, she has worked on the transmission of epidemic-prone diseases, including poliomyelitis, measles, chickenpox, and SARS-CoV-2. During the pandemic, her lab began working on how environmental racism and social inequities manifest COVID-19 health disparities, with particular emphasis on Black and Latinx communities in New York City.

The Martinez Lab in the News

In Fall 2022, Dr. Martinez teamed up with comedian David Perdue to teach social justice by merging art and science. In her new class, Imagine A Just City, Dr. Martinez works with students to foster creative thinking to solve one of the world’s biggest problems: creating and protecting justice in society. You can read her in-depth interview in Emory News (here).

In Fall 2021, Dr. Martinez joined civil rights attorneys and other scholars as part of the NYC Mayoral Commission for Social Justice. The commission recently held a press conference at City Hall to release social justice recommendations for the new mayor. Click the image below to watch the press conference and see the report. The report covers climate change, health, the criminal legal system, housing, education, and civil rights. Dr. Martinez led the sections on climate change, health, and heat.

Dr. Martinez was elected to be the the Chair of the MIDAS Steering Committee.

“MIDAS is a global network of scientists and practitioners from academia, industry, government, and non-governmental agencies, who develop and use computational, statistical and mathematical models to improve the understanding of infectious disease dynamics as it relates to pathogenesis, transmission, effective control strategies, and forecasting.”

MIDAS Network

 Dr. Martinez worked with Terry McGovern and Chelsea Clinton to review the health threats of fracking and called for the Biden Administration to end fracking exemptions. They discuss how fracking can impact the development of the heart, reproductive system, and cardiovascular system for a fetus during pregnancy, thus:

fracking may not only harm individuals directly exposed to it but may also have health consequences that carry over into future generations

Click the image below to read our full article about fracking.

Dr. Martinez was part of a panel discussion for the NYC Dept. of Health on how to build COVID-19 vaccine trustworthiness and ensure an equitable COVID-19 recovery in NYC.

Dr. Martinez had an interview with Teen Vogue on what life will look like after the COVID-19 vaccine. Click the image below to read the article.

Micaela Martinez, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, tells Teen Vogue we’ll likely need more than 75% of the U.S. population to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to reach that point, a similar estimate to one shared by Anthony Fauci, M.D.

Dr. Martinez and long time colleague Dr. Laura Symul, of Stanford University, had their work on holiday sexual activity and seasonal fertility covered in the UK’s The Guardian. Click the image below to read the article. Our work was also featured in The New York Post.

Dr. Martinez was interviewed by science journalist Flora Lichtman on Science Friday! She discuss her work on infectious disease seasonality and biological rhythms. Click the image to listen to the full interview.

Dr. Martinez did an in-depth interview with journalist Jon Cohen for Science Magazine to discuss infectious disease seasonality and biological rhythms. Click the image below for the article.

Dr. Martinez was featured in Scientific American for her publication revealing the Calendar of Epidemics. Click the image below to read the article.

“Other researchers have talked about the seasonality of certain diseases, but Martinez may be the first to survey such a wide range of conditions and find this common thread.” 

Dr. Martinez and long time collaborator Dr. Kevin Bakker wrote a scientific journalism piece on birth seasonality that was published in the Smithsonian Magazine.

Dr. Martinez and and colleague Dr. Sam Rund had their work featured in The Atlantic. Their policy proposal garnered attention because it called for widespread integrated vector surveillance for mosquitoes.

Dr. Martinez and colleagues used Google Trends digital epidemiology to reconstruct the timing of chickenpox epidemics around the world. The work was published in PNAS and featured in Science. Click the image to read the full manuscript.

Dr. Martinez’ work on Zika congenital infection and conception planning was discussed in Vogue. Click on the image to read the article.

Videos About Our Research

Watch Dr. Martinez and colleague Dr. Jeff Shaman talk to Science Insider about disease seasonality and the processes that curtail epidemics.

Dr. Martinez did an in-depth interview Science regarding her work on disease seasonality and the multi-year clinical investigation she has underway with colleagues at the University of Surrey to study seasonal changes in immunity and physiology. Watch the video below produced by Science to see Dr. Martinez at work.

While working on her seasonal rhythms clinical study in the UK, Dr. Martinez was interviewed by the Weather Channel. Click below to watch her discuss birth seasonality.

Dr. Martinez talks about getting to chase her big ideas with the NIH Director’s Early Independence Award, which has funded her research from 2016-2022.

Watch a virtual lecture by Dr. Martinez on SIR Models with Herd Immunity. She gave this lecture to undergrads at the MIDAS-CCDD Diversity Conference 2022.

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