Nita Bharti

Born in: USA
Primary research category: Biology, Anthropology, Global Health
Research location / employer: Department of Biology and Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics, Penn State University, USA
Fellowship dates: 2012-2017

Academic Career

  • Assistant Professor of Biology, Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics, Huck Early Career Professor, Penn State University, 2016-present
  • Visiting Scholar, Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University, USA, 2013-2017
  • Research Associate, Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics, Huck Institute for Life Sciences at Penn State University, USA, 2012-2016
  • Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, USA, 2009-2012


  • PhD, Biology, Penn State University in University Park, USA, 2009
  • MA, Biological Anthropology, Penn State University in University Park, USA, 2004
  • BS, Biology, Anthropology-Zoology (Honors), University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, USA, 2000

Fellowship Research

In developing economies, environmental, demographic, and cultural forces are shifting, perhaps even more than the associated biological processes. Successful public health programs must be based on a synthesis of sound biological and anthropological research. Dr. Nita Bharti’s work focuses on the interactions between biology and behavior and their interlinked impacts on human health to inform public health and disease intervention strategies.

Major Contributions

  • Currently developing a methodology and user interface to make open access satellite imagery accessible to non-experts to improve human health, ongoing collaboration with a not-for-profit venture capital firm
  • Applying multispectral high-resolution satellite imagery to understand and prevent Hendra virus spillover in Australia
  • Developed and teach interdisciplinary course on global health to fill gaps in current training programs
  • Designed vaccination strategies to increase access and coverage for mobile populations
  • Lead first study to overlay mobile phone usage data and satellite imagery to track human population movement during times of crisis or outbreaks
  • Developed novel methodology to quantify seasonal population fluctuations in human settlements from satellite imagery

Major Awards

  • Lloyd Huck early career professorship
  • NSF award: Dynamics of Coupled Natural Human Systems grant DEB-1716698 ‘Dynamics of Zoonotic Systems: Human-Bat-Pathogen Interactions’ Plowright, Restif, McGuire, Bharti, Shanahan. 2017-2020.
  • Health and Environment Seed Grant, Penn State University, “Environmentally linked viruses and dynamic transmission networks,” Bharti, N., Szpara, M., Schiff, S. 2017-2018.
  • Huck Institute for Cyberscience Seed Grant Program, “Digital innovation in food security using a 28,000 farmer living lab in Kenya,” Hughes, D., Bharti, N., Bartolini, N., Sommer, H. J., Laporta, T. F. 2017-2018.
  • Huck Institute for Cyberscience, Cyberhealth Innovation Seed Funds: Data to Insight, Data to Innovation, “Human Movement and Pathogen Importation and Transmission in Namibia,” Bharti, N., Szpara, M.
  • NSF award DBI-1052875NCEAS/SESYNC workshop ‘Land use change and infectious diseases,’ A. Dobson, N. Bharti, M. Bonds. 2013-2015.
  • NIH Research and Policy for Infectious Disease Dynamics (RAPIDD) workshop award ‘‘Environmental drivers of behavior and infectious disease,’ N. Bharti, J. Jones.
  • University Graduate Fellowship, Penn State University

Collaborative Projects with other Branco Weiss Fellows