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Published: 03 Jun, 2021

Climate change impacts on infectious disease epidemiology

PROFILE Meet Junwen Guo, researcher and research coordinator by the department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine within the Section of Sustainable Health. Her career is now at a turning point moving to a completely new research topic, from ecology to public health. Her research will focus on climate change impacts on infectious disease epidemiology, within the context of public and global health.

Text: Linnéa Höök

What is relevant right now?

–Right now, I am at my career turning point, moving to a completely new research topic, from ecology to public health. Lots of new knowledge flood to me every day, which makes me very excited.
Beside the research part, I gain a new role, research coordinator, in this new position. Coordinating large EU projects and getting to know many new people sometimes are very complex but also make me a sense of accomplishment. 

The current research topic of infectious diseases is very different than what I did before, but the climate change can bridge them together. Climate change is important for our living environment but at the end will have huge impact on human health. For example, the current pandemic is influenced by climate change as well. Changes in disease transmission patterns are a likely major consequence of climate change. However, the overall influence of climate change on disease is complex, which requires us to learn more about the underlying complex causal relationships, and apply this information to the prediction of future impacts, using more complete, better validated, integrated, models.

Tell us more about yourself! What did you do before you started working at Umeå Universitet?

–I am originally from northern China, and came to Umeå to study at Umeå Universitet. I finished my master's degree in ecology, and later I stayed and got my PhD degree from Ecology and Environmental Science at Umeå University in February 2020.

During my PhD, I was mainly interested in climate changed induced nutrient cycling in aquatic food web, especially the consequences of consumer-resource stoichiometric imbalance in planktonic food webs. In my PhD thesis, I used multiple aquatic systems to elucidate how the form and input of nutrients shape the plankton food web dynamics and its stoichiometric responses. The results of these experiments can help to address several climate change induced nutrients burdens to aquatic system. For example, in northern Europe, the coastal ecosystems are increasingly threatened by climate change which is expected to result in more precipitation in the region within the next hundred years, followed by concomitant increases in freshwater input to the estuaries. Consequently, larger amounts of coloured terrestrial organic matter and nutrients (such as inorganic and organic nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P)) could be transported from land to coastal waters, which will alter the physicochemical environment and potentially affect the ecological interactions, basal production and food-web quality of the coastal ecosystems. Our findings imply that climate change-induced increases in inflow of freshwater and terrestrial dissolved organic carbon will alter the stoichiometry and reduce the nutritional quality of plankton food webs in subarctic coastal ecosystems.

In your research coordinator role you are a part of the ENBEL project. Can you tell us more about it?

–ENBEL stands for Enhancing Belmont Research Action. In this project, ENBEL will contribute with knowledge and policy advice on climate change and health links by bringing together leaders in climate change and health research the CICERO-coordinated Horizon 2020 project. The project consortium is multidisciplinary and includes 17 partners from 11 European countries as well as from Botswana, Kenya, and South Africa. Together the partners have competencies in medicine, epidemiology, public health, climate and air quality modelling, health impact assessment, economics, science and policy communication and stakeholder engagement.

My role in ENBEL is mainly coordination and networking oriented, including composing necessary working deliverables and financial reports.
I am responsible to networking and coordination among researchers and stakeholders within the climate change and health nexus. Read more about the project here:

What has been the biggest challenges during Covid-19 in your work?

–The biggest challenge so far is working from home, communication sometimes became much more complicated than before.

What do you prefer to do when you have a day off? Hobbies, interests or other things that you like to do.

–Movie, music and DIY. Studying ecology and climate change has dramatically changed my personal life. I became super recycle addicted. I have tried a few projects, e.g. Zero waste challenge, no buy new campaign.

Short facts

Name: Junwen Guo
Title: Researcher & Research Coordinator
Age: 38
Family: Husband and one daughter
Tv-series i’m watching: Home Before Dark
What i find inspiring: TED talks and learning something new
Favourite food: Chinese, Korean and Japanese Food


Junwen Guo
Research coordinator