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Lauren Charles, DVM, PhD

Chief Data Scientist, Data Science and Analytics group

Lauren Charles, DVM, PhD

Chief Data Scientist, Data Science and Analytics group


Biofeeds, a global bio-surveillance platform created at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) with support from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, helped analysts in December 2019 track an unknown pneumonia sickening people in China. The virus was later dubbed COVID-19. Lauren Charles led the analytics development powering the Biofeeds software.

Through data science and engineering, Charles uncovers and investigates biological, chemical, and radiological threats to humans, animals, plants, and the environment. This information helps decipher an infectious disease outbreak like COVID-19 from inception to global impact.

“COVID-19 is an example of why Biofeeds exists,” said Charles. “This software can look below the overwhelming chatter about COVID-19; it continuously mines for and monitors any potential biothreats happening in the world right now.”

Charles’ interest in seeking connections between living things and their environments, particularly in health security, has several influences. She holds a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), a PhD in fisheries, wildlife, and conservation biology, and a master’s degree in plant biology and bioinformatics. Her bachelor’s degree is in mathematics and environmental studies.

“I aim to use all of my domain expertise and apply data science to get a better understanding and situational awareness of our living environment to mitigate and prevent health threats,” said Charles, who joined PNNL in 2015 as a postdoc and soon after was hired as a senior data scientist in the National Security Directorate.

Charles lately has focused on contributing her data and analytic expertise to One Health, the global concept, supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that human health is connected to the health of animals, plants, and their shared environment.

Charles holds a joint appointment as a research professor at the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Paul Allen School for Global Animal Health.

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