¡Hola hola!

I am originally from Ecuador and USA living in Melbourne, Australia since 2014. As a molecular epidemiologist with expertise in population genetics, epidemiology, and bioinformatics, I’m interested in combining these approaches to population-based studies of infectious diseases, particularly malaria and more recently COVID-19.

  • PhD in Genetic Epidemiology ∙ University of Melbourne ∙ 2018

  • Certificate in Teaching Skills for Graduate Researchers ∙ University of Melbourne ∙ 2018

  • BA in Biology ∙ Colorado College ∙ 2012

My current research aims to better understand malaria infection dynamics and host-parasite factors that contribute to sustaining malaria transmission in countries attempting elimination. I work closely with endemic country partners to support in-country capacity building and through my research I hope to contribute to enhance malaria surveillance, control and elimination strategies.

I completed my PhD at University of Melbourne in the laboratory of Professor Karen Day and am currently a Joint Postdoctoral Scientist in the laboratories of Professor Ivo Mueller and Professor Leanne Robinson at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. I also have ongoing appointments at the University of Melbourne and Burnet Institute. I am a member of the Australian Centre for Research Excellence in Malaria Elimination, the Australian Centre for the Control and Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases, and a researcher of the Asia-Pacific International Center of Excellence for Malaria Research. In Ecuador, I hold an adjunct appointment as Associate Professor at Universidad San Francisco de Quito (since 2020) and collaborate on projects related to the genetic and genomic epidemiology of malaria, and more recently on several initiatives related to the COVID-19 pandemic emergency response.

Apart from my research, I am highly committed to furthering health and development initiatives, particularly in my home country of Ecuador. From early 2016 until the COVID-19 pandemic, I was CEO and co-founder of the The Artisan Project, a social enterprise that worked hand in hand with talented indigenous artisans in Ecuador. We used fashion as a tool to create income-generating opportunities, particularly for indigenous women, and impulse social impact and innovation. I am also a President and co-organizer of R-Ladies Melbourne, a non-profit organization and local chapter of R-Ladies Global aiming to promote gender diversity in the R community, both in Australia and worldwide.

If you are interested in an Honors, Masters or PhD project I’m looking for an exceptional student to join an exciting project entitled “Understanding malaria infection dynamics”. See more details here. If you are an international student, please get in touch if you are considering applying to the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute International PhD Scholar Initiative.


Shazia Ruybal Pesántez

Postdoctoral Scientist