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Dr Morag Macpherson

a picture of Dr Morag Macpherson

I am a postdoctoral research assistant at the University of Stirling working on a project titled FOREMOD: “Modelling economic impact and strategies to increase resilience against tree disease outbreaks”. This is one of seven BBSRC funded projects under the Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Initiative (THAPBI) and runs from June 2014-June 2017. In this project, an interdisciplinary team of mathematicians, forest ecologists and economists will work together to build a series of models to study the ways in which different management options can reduce risks and expected damages from a range of forest diseases.

My main interests are in using mathematical models to find how to best manage disease spread in the environment (forests and wildlife). In particular my models integrate epidemiology, ecology and economics to fully understand the mechanisms of disease spread and how it can be controlled.

You can follow me on Twitter @m_f_mac for updates about work (and other things that interest me).

Previous Education

2010-2014: PhD in mathematics at the University Of Heriot-Watt University and Scottish Rural University College

2009-2010: MSc in Applied Mathematical Sciences with Biological & Ecological Modelling at The University Of Heriot- Watt University. Dissertation: Modelling Tumour Invasion

2005-2009: BSc (Hons) in Mathematics at The University of St Andrews


In my PhD I developed mathematical frameworks to describe and evaluate a range of ecological systems. My thesis is titled 'Modelling population and disease dynamics in complex ecological systems' and I had three supervisors, Dr. Ross Davidson (SRUC), Prof. Dugald Duncan (HW) and Dr. Andrew White (HW). My PhD consisted of three projects.

  1. The population dynamical consequences of a maternal effect on disease resistance
  2. Disease spread on complex dispersal landscapes: Assessing the potential threat of squirrelpox to red squirrels on the Isle of Arran (project with Forestry Commission Scotland and ecologist)
  3. The impact of seasonality on species colonisation and persistence on complex landscapes

For more information on PhD please see my CV.


Morag F. Macpherson, Adam Kleczkowski, John R. Healey, Chris Quine and Nick Hanley. The Effects of Invasive Pests and Diseases on Strategies for Forest Diversification (Discussion paper)

Macpherson, M.F., Kleczkowski, A., Healey, J.R., and Hanley N. (2017) Payment for multiple forest benefits alters the effect of tree disease on optimal forest rotation length Ecological Economics 134:82-94 (DOI:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2017.01.008)

Macpherson, M.F., Kleczkowski, A., Healey, J.R., and Hanley N. (2016) The effects of disease on optimal forest rotation: a generalisable analytical framework Environmental and Resource Economics (DOI:10.1007/s10640-016-0077-4)

Hanley, N. , and Macpherson, M.F. (2016) Economics of invasive pests and diseases: a guide for policy makers and managers. This paper was produced for the UNEP (Division of Environmental Policy Implementation) and a copy can be found here.

Macpherson, M. F., Davidson, R. S., Duncan, D. B., Lurz, P. W., Jarrott, A., & White, A. (2015). Incorporating habitat distribution in wildlife disease models: conservation implications for the threat of squirrelpox on the Isle of Arran. Animal Conservation 19(1):3-14 (DOI: 10.1111/acv.12219)