Holly Gaff





Dr. Holly Gaff is a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Old Dominion University. Dr. Gaff earned her Ph.D. in Mathematics at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Dr. Gaff’s research interests have focused mainly on studying the ecology of ticks and tick-borne diseases through an active surveillance project and mathematical modeling. She has published more than 75 peer-reviewed articles and has had funding from NIH, CDC, DOD, USDA, and others. She currently leads the ODU Tick Research Team, which is a team of faculty, graduate and undergraduate students that have been working to better understand the ecology of ticks and tick-borne pathogens in Virginia for more than 10 years. The ODU Tick Research Team has been running a long-term active tick surveillance program in Virginia since 2009, which has led to the discovery and mapping of tick populations moving into and across Virginia as well as spanning many other related projects. Dr. Gaff also holds an honorary appointment at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and works with scientists throughout southern Africa on the challenges of ticks and tick-borne pathogens there.

Preferred Pronouns


Personal Academic Website

Research/Topics of Interest

Agent-based models
Apply models to public health
Compartmental models
Geospatial models
Network models
Public health policy/interventions
Science communication
Surveillance/case detection
Time-series models
tick-borne diseases

Pathogens/Diseases of Main Interest/Expertise

Vector-borne diseases

Countries of Work/Collaboration

United States



Morris CN, Gaff HD, Berghaus RD, Wilson CM, Gleim ER. (2022). Tick Species Composition, Collection Rates, and Phenology Provide Insights into Tick-Borne Disease Ecology in Virginia. Journal of medical entomology

Lippi CA, Ryan SJ, White AL, Gaff HD, Carlson CJ. (2021). Trends and Opportunities in Tick-Borne Disease Geography. Journal of medical entomology

Lephoto T, Mwambi H, Bodhlyera O, Gaff H. (2021). Spatio-temporal modelling of tick life-stage count data with spatially varying coefficients. Geospatial health, 16(2)

Nadolny RM, Toliver M, Gaff HD, Snodgrass JG, Robbins RG. (2021). Focus Stacking Images of Morphological Character States for Differentiating the Adults of Ixodes affinis and Ixodes scapularis (Acari: Ixodidae) in Areas of Sympatry. Journal of medical entomology

Lippi CA, Gaff HD, White AL, Ryan SJ. (2021). ticks and rickettsial group pathogens. PeerJ, (9)

Cumbie AN, Heller EL, Bement ZJ, Phan A, Walters EL, Hynes WL, Gaff HD. (2021). Passerine birds as hosts for Ixodes ticks infected with Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto in southeastern Virginia. Ticks and tick-borne diseases, 12(3)

Bradshaw BT, Jones KM, Westerdale-McInnis JM, Gaff HD. (2021). Orofacial Manifestations of Lyme Disease: A systematic review. Journal of dental hygiene : JDH, 95(4)

Benham SA, Gaff HD, Bement ZJ, Blaise C, Cummins HK, Ferrara R, Moreno J, Parker E, Phan A, Rose T, Azher S, Price D, Gauthier DT. (2021). Comparative population genetics of Amblyomma maculatum and Amblyomma americanum in the mid-Atlantic United States. Ticks and tick-borne diseases, 12(1)

Gnanalingam G, Gaff H, Butler MJ 4th.. (2020). Conserving spawning stocks through harvest slot limits and no-take protected areas. Conservation biology : the journal of the Society for Conservation Biology, 34(6)

Espada C, Cummins H, Gonzales JA, Notto L, Gaff HD. (2020). A Comparison of Tick Collection Materials and Methods in Southeastern Virginia. Journal of medical entomology

Lippi CA, Gaff HD, White AL, St John HK, Richards AL, Ryan SJ. (2020). Exploring the Niche of Rickettsia montanensis (Rickettsiales: Rickettsiaceae) Infection of the American Dog Tick (Acari: Ixodidae), Using Multiple Species Distribution Model Approaches. Journal of medical entomology

Cumbie AN, Espada CD, Nadolny RM, Rose RK, Dueser RD, Hynes WL, Gaff HD. (2020). Survey of Rickettsia parkeri and Amblyomma maculatum associated with small mammals in southeastern Virginia. Ticks and tick-borne diseases, 11(6)

Gaff H, Eisen RJ, Eisen L, Nadolny R, Bjork J, Monaghan AJ. (2020). LYMESIM 2.0: An Updated Simulation of Blacklegged Tick (Acari: Ixodidae) Population Dynamics and Enzootic Transmission of Borrelia burgdorferi (Spirochaetales: Spirochaetaceae). Journal of medical entomology, 57(3)

White A, Minch R, Bidder L, Gaff H. (2020). A Simple, Inexpensive Method for Mark-Recapture of Ixodid Ticks. Journal of insect science (Online), 20(6)

Maliyoni M, Chirove F, Gaff HD, Govinder KS. (2019). A stochastic epidemic model for the dynamics of two pathogens in a single tick population. Theoretical population biology, (127)

Cumbie AN, Walters EL, Gaff HD, Hynes WL. (2020). First report of Candidatus Rickettsia mendelii in Ixodes brunneus from the United States. Ticks and tick-borne diseases, 11(1)

Hecht JA, Allerdice MEJ, Dykstra EA, Mastel L, Eisen RJ, Johnson TL, Gaff HD, Varela-Stokes AS, Goddard J, Pagac BB, Paddock CD, Karpathy SE. (2019). Species. Vector borne and zoonotic diseases (Larchmont, N.Y.), 19(9)

White A, Schaefer E, Thompson CW, Kribs CM, Gaff H. Dynamics of two pathogens in a single tick population. Letters in biomathematics, 6(1)

Molaei G, Little EAH, Stafford KC 3rd., Gaff H. (2020). A seven-legged tick: Report of a morphological anomaly in Ixodes scapularis (Acari: Ixodidae) biting a human host from the Northeastern United States. Ticks and tick-borne diseases, 11(1)

Bidder LA, Asmussen KM, Campbell SE, Goffigan KA, Gaff HD. (2019). Assessing the underwater survival of two tick species, Amblyomma americanum and Amblyomma maculatum. Ticks and tick-borne diseases, 10(1)

Kelman P, Thompson CW, Hynes W, Bergman C, Lenahan C, Brenner JS, Brenner MG, Goodman B, Borges D, Filak M, Gaff H. (2018). Rickettsia parkeri infections diagnosed by eschar biopsy, Virginia, USA. Infection, 46(4)

Nadolny RM, Gaff HD. (2018). Natural history of Amblyomma maculatum in Virginia. Ticks and tick-borne diseases, 9(2)

Nadolny RM, Gaff HD. (2018). Natural history of Ixodes affinis in Virginia. Ticks and tick-borne diseases, 9(1)

Maliyoni M, Chirove F, Gaff HD, Govinder KS. (2017). A Stochastic Tick-Borne Disease Model: Exploring the Probability of Pathogen Persistence. Bulletin of mathematical biology, 79(9)

Shannon AB, Rucinsky R, Gaff HD, Brinkerhoff RJ. (2017). Borrelia miyamotoi, Other Vector-Borne Agents in Cat Blood and Ticks in Eastern Maryland. EcoHealth, 14(4)

Manore CA, Ostfeld RS, Agusto FB, Gaff H, LaDeau SL. (2017). Defining the Risk of Zika and Chikungunya Virus Transmission in Human Population Centers of the Eastern United States. PLoS neglected tropical diseases, 11(1)

Walter KS, Pepin KM, Webb CT, Gaff HD, Krause PJ, Pitzer VE, Diuk-Wasser MA. (2016). Invasion of two tick-borne diseases across New England: harnessing human surveillance data to capture underlying ecological invasion processes. Proceedings. Biological sciences, 283(1832)

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