Meet Assistant Professor Dr. Lili Salvador

Nov. 27, 2023

Dr. Liliana (Lili) da Conceição Monteiro Salvador grew up in Porto, Portugal where she received her BS and MS focusing on complexity theory at the University of Porto. She then pursued her PhD in Biology at the University of Lisbon. Her  PhD was part of the PhD Program in Computational Biology at the Gulbenkian Institute of Science, which awarded her a PhD fellowship to do her research studies abroad. She was able to do her PhD research with Dr. Simon Levin in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University (Princeton, NJ), focusing on theoretical models to study animal movement. The support and opportunities she received during that time were unmeasurable and they paved her research path.

After Princeton, Lili worked at the Institute for Advanced Studies of Blanes – Spanish National Research Council (CEAB-CSIC), Spain with Dr. Frederic Bartumeus to study the statistical properties of C. elegans movement. After that, she was off to Scotland, where she was a postdoctoral researcher working with Dr. Rowland Kao at the School of Biodiversity, One Health, and Veterinary Medicine at the University of Glasgow and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh, developing simulation models to understand bovine tuberculosis dynamics. This is where she started combining her different sets of skills to understand important questions about disease dynamics with a particular focus on bovine tuberculosis control.
Before moving to UArizona, Lili was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Infectious Diseases and the Institute of Bioinformatics at the University of Georgia (Athens, GA), where her lab research focused on the development of bioinformatics tools to understand bacterial genomics and evolution.

In her current position Lili serves as an Assistant Professor in ACBS and is also a member of the BIO5 institute, and a faculty member of the Graduate Program in Applied Mathematics and the Graduate Interdisciplinary Program in Statistics & Data Science. Her research aims to develop a better understanding of the evolutionary and transmission dynamics of pathogens. Within this context, she specializes in zoonotic bacterial pathogens that can infect humans, domestic animals, and wildlife alike. She is particularly experienced in animal and zoonotic tuberculosis where she works with state and federal agencies. In the last few years she has also started working with the genomics of Leptospira and Salmonella.

Lili has three grants in progress, including a grant from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement, Scialog: Mitigating Zoonotic Threats with colleagues from the Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. This study focuses on unraveling gene expression patterns after M. bovis infection of tissues from two of the animal reservoirs for bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in the US, cattle, and white-tailed deer.

Additional grants include ‘Salmonella population dynamics in surface water’ and is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture. As well as, ‘PIPP Phase I: BEHIVE – BEHavioral Interaction and Viral Evolution for Pandemic Prevention and Prediction’, funded by the National Science Foundation. In this project, she focuses on the integration of pathogen genomic data with human behavioral factors.

Lili will start teaching classes next year when she will be teaching Clinical Virology in Spring 2024 and Ecology of Infectious Diseases in the following years. She would like others to know, “I am always up to meeting new people and having a nice chat about science”. She goes on to say, “I am excited to be at the UArizona and to explore Tucson, the surrounding desert, and the beautiful mountains that I see every morning”.

Lili can be reached at