Jon Zelner

Social epidemiology, infectious diseases, and statistics


I’m an Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Epidemiology and the Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health (CSEPH) at the University of Michigan School of Public Health

Positions and Appointments

2017- University of Michigan School of Public Health Assistant Professor, Dept. of Epidemiology and Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health (CSEPH).

Fall 2016 Yale School of Public Health Postdoctoral scholar in lab of Prof. Ted Cohen, Dept. of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases.

2014-2016 Columbia University Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar.

2011-14 Princeton University NIH Research and Policy for Infectious Disease Dynamics (RAPIDD) postdoctoral scholar in the lab of Prof. Bryan Grenfell in the Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.


2005-11 University of Michigan PhD (Sociology and Public Policy) Ann Arbor, MI.

Dissertation : Understanding Infectious Disease Transmission at Three Levels: Household, Community, and Region.

Dissertation Committee: Joseph Eisenberg (Co-chair), James House (Co-chair), Jeff Morenoff, Ana Diez-Roux, Elizabeth Bruch

2003-05 Washington University in St. Louis MSW (Social Work) St. Louis, MO.

1999-03 Haverford College BA (Sociology). Haverford, PA.


2016 Zelner JL, Murray MB, Becerra MC, Galea J, Lecca L, Calderon R, Yataco R, Zhang Z, Manjourides J, Grenfell BT, Cohen T. Identifying hotspots of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis transmission using spatial and molecular genetic data. Journal of Infectious Diseases. 213(2):287-294.

Morris SE*, Zelner JL*, Fauquier DA, Rowles TK, Rose PE, Gulland F, Grenfell BT. Partially observed epidemics in wildlife hosts: modelling an outbreak of dolphin morbillivirus in the northwestern Atlantic, June 2013–2014. Journal of the Royal Society Interface. 2015;12(112). (*Authors contributed equally.)


Thompson C*, Zelner JL* Hoang Nhu TD, Phan MV Le Phuc H, Hung NT, Duong VT, Ngoc NM, Tuan HM Tu VHT, Vi LL, Chau NVV, Hien TT, von Clemm E, Storch H, Thwaites G, Grenfell BT, Baker S. Modeling the impact of environmental and climatic variation on the spatiotemporal trends of hospitalized pediatric diarrhea in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Health and Place. 35:147-154. (*Authors contributed equally.)

Faust C, Zelner JL, Brasseur P, Valliant M, Grenfell BT, Metcalf CJ, Olliaro P. (2015). Modeling behavioral, environmental and epidemiological factors that influence the uptake of ‘Test and Treat’ policies for malaria in a rural district of southwestern Senegal. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.


Zelner JL, Murray MB, Becerra MC, Galea J, Lecca L, Calderon R, Yataco R, Zhang Z, Grenfell BT, Cohen T. Age-specific risks of tuberculosis infection from household- and community-exposures suggest opportunities for interventions in a high-burden setting. American Journal of Epidemiology. 180(8):853-861.

Zelner JL, Murray MB, Becerra MC, Galea J, Lecca L, Calderon R, Yataco R, Zhang Z, Grenfell BT, Cohen T. Protective effects of Bacillus Calmette-Guerin vaccination and isoniazid preventive therapy among the household contacts of diagnosed tuberculosis cases: A cohort study. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 189(7):853-859.


Zelner JL, Lopman BA, Hall AJ, Ballesteros S, Grenfell BT. Linking Time-Varying Symptomatology and Intensity of Infectiousness to Patterns of Norovirus Transmission. PLOS One. 8(7):e68413.

Milbrath MO, Spicknall I, Zelner JL, Moe CL, Eisenberg, JNS. Infectiousness duration heterogeneity and population outbreak risk: A systematic review of long-term viral shedding in Norovirus infection. Epidemiology and Infection, 141(8):1572-84.


Zelner JL, Trostle J, Goldstick JE, Cevallos W, House, JS, Eisenberg JNS. Social connectedness and disease transmission: social organization, cohesion, village context, and infection risk in rural Ecuador. American Journal of Public Health, 102(12):2233-2239.


Katz, DM, Gubler J, Zelner JL, Provins E, Ingall E. Reproduction of Hierarchy? A Social Network Analysis of the American Law Professoriate. Journal of Legal Education, 61(1):76-105.


Zelner JL, King, AA, Moe CL, Eisenberg JNS. How Infections Propagate After Point Source Outbreaks: An Analysis of Secondary Norovirus Transmission. Epidemiology, 21(5):711-715.


Bommarito MJ, Katz DM, Zelner JL, Fowler JH. Distance Measures for Dynamic Citation Networks. Physica A, 381(19):4201-4208.


Vaughn MG, Howard MO, Foster KA, Dayton MK, Zelner JL. Substance Use in a Statewide Population of Incarcerated Juvenile Offenders. Journal of Evidence Based Social Work, 2(1-2):155-173.

Manuscripts in Preparation

Zelner JL, Muller C, Feigenbaum J. “Understanding the role of changes in urban population density and regional migration on racial disparities in city-level declines in U.S. tuberculosis mortality during the pre-antibiotic era: 1900-1940.”

Zelner JL “Why are country-level disparities in global Tuberculosis rising as global incidence is falling? Understanding the implications of social and economic inequality for TB control and elimination.”

Zelner JL, Murray M, Becerra M., Cohen T. “Understanding the implications of spatial heterogeneity in community infection risks for the citywide efficacy of Isoniazid preventive therapy in Lima, Peru.”

Zelner JL, Muller C, Papachristos A. “Understanding the origins of outbreaks of urban gun violence and police-involved shootings using spatiotemporal point-process models.”


2015 Digitizing the United States Historical Mortality Statistics: 1900-1940. Seed grant ($20,000) from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

2012 Environmental and social drivers of diarrheal disease risk in children under five in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam ($30,000). Health Grand Challenges Grant, from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy, Princeton University.

2010 National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant ($10,000; I declined award for logistical reasons.)

Fellowships & Awards

2011-14 Research and Policy for Infectious Disease Dynamics (RAPIDD) Postdoctoral Fellowship. RAPIDD is an NIH/DHS program focused on developing rigorous dynamic modeling in infectious disease epidemiology.

2007-09 National Science Foundation IGERT-IDEAS Graduate Fellowship in Complex Systems Studies

2008-09 Google Summer of Code ($9,000). Provided funding for scientific software development over two summers.

Teaching and Mentorship

2015 Advised undergraduate summer research projects of Sarah Weinstein (Columbia Statistics/Psychology) and Yichen Wang (Columbia Statistics): “Spatiotemporal dependence between weather patterns and violent crime events in Philadelphia, 2006-2014.”

2013 Advised undergraduate thesis of Emmiliese von Clemm (Princeton Ecology & Evolutionary Biology): “Spatial and social drivers of environmental exposure and diarrheal disease risk in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.”

2012 Advised undergraduate thesis of Christopher Kelly (Princeton Computer Science): “Statistical modeling of Norovirus outbreaks.”

2011 Advised undergraduate thesis of Miky Melaku (Princeton Ecology & Evolutionary Biology): “Understanding the effects of multiple-testing policies on Shigella Sonnei risk in Philadelphia”

2008 Developed curriculum for the first undergraduate course in Complex Systems studies at the University of Michigan with Prof. Scott Page. (Winter)

Teaching Assistant, University of Michigan, Center for the Study of Complex Systems, “Introduction to Dynamic Modeling for Complex Systems” with Prof. Scott Page. (Fall)

Teaching interests

Selected Presentations

2016 “Tuberculosis as a symptom of stratification: Understanding racial disparities in TB mortality in the 20th century United States”. Invited speaker, Infectious Disease Epidemiology Seminar, Dornsife School of Public Health, Drexel University. (February 5)

2015 “Using spatial and genetic data to understand spatial clustering of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis in Lima, Peru”. Invited speaker, Infectious Disease Modeling Seminar, Yale School of Public Health. (February 6)

2014 “Social network analysis in infectious disease epidemiology.” Guest lecture. University of Pennsylvania, Dept. of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. (April 7)

2013 “Age-specific risks of tuberculosis infection from household- and community-exposures suggest opportunities for interventions in a high-burden setting.” Epidemics4 Conference, Amsterdam, The Netherlands: (November 19-22)

2011 “How social connectedness can inhibit infectious disease transmission.” Epidemics3 Conference, Boston, MA. (December 2).

2010 “How infections propagate after point source outbreaks: An analysis of secondary norovirus transmission.” Harvard School of Public Health, Dept. of Epidemiology Seminar Series, (March 29)

2008 “Statistical inference for household transmission systems: An analysis of secondary transmission in a Norovirus outbreak.” Epidemics1 Conference. Asilomar, CA. (December 2).

Programming Languages and Frameworks



I write regularly on infectious disease epidemiology, statistical methods, and reproducible research on my blog at


Available on request.