Kevin James Olival (born 1975)

Born - August 10, 1975 ( See [HD0012][GDrive] )

HousatonicITS Research Pages :


Dr. Kevin Olival

Vice President for Research


"Our activities take us to the farthest reaches of the planet to monitor wildlife health and draw linkages between humans, animals, and ecosystems. My work with bats strives to both conserve these ecologically beneficial animals and understand their role in the emergence of human diseases - with the ultimate goal of preventing the next pandemic."

Scientists Bio

Dr. Kevin Olival is an ecologist and evolutionary biologist who has been researching emerging infectious diseases for over a decade. He has been at the forefront of recent international investigations to understand the origins and transmission pathways of: Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in Saudi Arabia; Ebola Reston virus in the Philippines; and Nipah virus in Bangladesh and Malaysia. He has managed wildlife conservation and disease research projects across Southeast Asia for over 10 years, with a strong focus on bat research. Dr. Olival’s role as Senior Research Scientist at EcoHealth Alliance involves coordinating the modeling and analytics research; integrating evolutionary and ecological theories to understand the drivers of disease emergence; and managing zoonotic disease surveillance efforts in Thailand and Indonesia under the USAID PREDICT project.

Some highlights from Kevin Olival’s research include detecting the first evidence for Ebola virus from bats in mainland Southeast Asia (Bangladesh); detecting MERS-CoV and related viruses in bats and advising the Institute of Medicine’s Forum on Microbial Threats on this disease; understanding the circulation of Nipah virus in its natural fruit bat reservoirs; estimating viral diversity in mammals globally; and building models to predict zoonotic disease emergence. Dr. Olival has a unique blend of skills from the field, laboratory, and behind a computer that include ecological techniques to capture and survey bats, satellite telemetry of wildlife, field training courses in safe specimen handling and personal protective equipment (PPE), molecular biology techniques, phylogenetic analyses, and ecological modeling.

Dr. Olival graduated with distinction from Columbia University in 2008 with a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and a M.A. in Conservation Biology. His dissertation research focused on the population genetics and geographic distributions of large fruit bats in Southeast Asia, with implications for Nipah virus dynamics and emergence. He has conducted month-long expeditions to Southeast Asia doing fieldwork and managing projects working with local scientists and NGOs.

Dr. Olival completed a prestigious two-year NIH Fogarty U.S. Global Health Postdoctoral fellowship expanding EcoHealth Alliance’s work on the ecology of Nipah virus in Bangladesh. Dr. Olival has a passion for turning rigorous science into effective public policy, and aims to keep this as a central goal of his career path.

His research has been highlighted in The New York Times, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, TIME magazine, Toronto Star, Wired, and National Geographic.


2014 (Nov 24) - Video from Rutgers University : "The Origins and Ecology of Ebola Virus - Kevin J. Olival, PhD"

Live link : / Saved 720p copy : [HV00QG][GDrive]

The Ebola Forum / November 14, 1014 / Rutgers University

Organized by the working group, "Zoonosis and Society: Interdisciplinary Perspectives of Animal-to-Human Disease."

Sponsored by the GAIA Centers, Rutgers University.

This forum brought together experts from different disciplines, including cultural anthropology, disease ecology, evolutionary biology, virology, and field epidemiology to discuss current knowledge about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Dec 14, 2017 Tweet

Tweet [HT004Y][GDrive] - "Excited to work with the amazing team at NCDC/Lugar Center for our new @doddtra #bat project. Had a productive few days of meetings here in Tbilisi, Georgia. Beautiful city, wonderful team! "

2017 (February) - Zika Virus publication

Full PDF - [HI000Y][GDrive]

2020 (May) - Updated professional profile

Source :


Vice President for Research at EcoHealth Alliance

EcoHealth Alliance

Columbia University in the City of New York


Vice President for Research at EcoHealth Alliance -- developing and leading cutting-edge science to shape public policy in emerging infectious diseases and conservation.


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Check out our new paper and press about it here. ~700 new bat CoV sequences from China and analyses of host and geographic origins for Coronaviruses.

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Spoke to WGN Radio AM 720 yesterday about all aspects of #covid19, thanks Roe Conn for the great questions and giving me time to reply! Nice to have a longer format, rather than just quick soundbites.

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Tune in live for EcoHealth Alliance’s annual (and now virtual) benefit TONIGHT 8pm EST!

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Interested in #bats #conservation #coronaviruses #globalhealth and how all these things can successfully work together? With our team at EcoHealth Alliance, I've spent the last few years helping to build a network of bat ecologists, conservationists, virologists, and #onehealth researchers in Western Asia and proud to announce our new website launched today! Thanks to a generous grant from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency for allowing us to build this collaborative network. Check it out:

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EcoHealth Alliance

Company NameEcoHealth Alliance

Total Duration10 yrs 10 mos

TitleVice President for Research

Dates EmployedJul 2015 – Present

Employment Duration5 yrs

LocationGreater New York City Area

Leading a research team to understand the ecological and evolutionary drivers of zoonotic disease emergence. Modeling and Analytics coordinator for the global USAID PREDICT-2 project. Additionally, oversee field projects, primarily in Asia, including capacity building for wildlife disease surveillance and pathogen detection in Southeast and Western Asia.

TitleSenior Research Scientist

Dates EmployedSep 2009 – Jul 2015

Employment Duration5 yrs 11 mos

LocationGreater New York City Area

My research focuses on understanding the drivers of zoonotic disease emergence, and the ecology and evolution of mammals and their associated pathogens. I manage several projects, mostly with activities in Asia, including capacity building for wildlife disease surveillance in our partner countries.

American Museum of Natural History

Company NameAmerican Museum of Natural History

Total Duration12 yrs

TitleVisiting Research Scientist

Dates EmployedSep 2009 – Present

Employment Duration10 yrs 10 mos

Oversee work of lab technician and manage projects including DNA barcoding and host genotyping.

TitlePost doc

Dates Employed2008 – Nov 2009

Employment Duration1 yr

Evolution and phylogenetics of fruit bats and their parasites, including malaria parasites.

Columbia University

Company NameColumbia University

Total Duration18 yrs

TitleAdjunct Research Scientist, Earth Institute

Dates EmployedNov 2009 – Present

Employment Duration10 yrs 8 mos

EcoHealth Alliance representative for the Earth Institute Center for Environmental Sustainability (EICES) steering committee. Advise students through Columbia University's Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology.

TitleInstructor, Secondary Schools Summer Program

Dates EmployedJul 2005 – Aug 2013

Employment Duration8 yrs 2 mos

Instructor for Issues in Biological Conservation summer course.

TitlePhD Student

Dates Employed2002 – 2008

Employment Duration6 yrs

Dissertation on the phylogeography of flying foxes (Genus Pteropus) in Southeast Asia. Implications for conservation and Nipah virus ecology.

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Columbia University in the City of New York

Columbia University in the City of New York

Degree NamePh.D. Field Of StudyEcology, Evolution, Environmental Biology

Dates attended or expected graduation 2003 – 2008

Columbia University in the City of New York

Columbia University in the City of New York

Degree NameMaster of Arts (M.A.) Field Of StudyConservation Biology

Dates attended or expected graduation 2002 – 2003

Colorado State University

Colorado State University

Degree NameBachelor of Science (BS) Field Of StudyBiology/Biological Sciences, General

Dates attended or expected graduation 1993 – 1997

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1991 (Dec 05) - Producing the high school play about the "plague"

Full page - [HN00SX][GDrive]

2018 (Sep 20)

Tweet - [HT0059][GDrive] : "Here we are! The 1st Annual Western Asia Bat Research Network workshop. Tbilisi, Georgia Sept 17-19, 2018. What an impressive, collaborative, and friendly bunch of #bat and #OneHealth scientists! #WABNet ⁦ "

... and the EcoHealth Alliance Reply ...


"Funding for the Mauritius Fruit Bat Research Strategy Workshop generously received from Chester Zoo, Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, Government of Mauritius, Lubee Bat Conser-vancy, and Bat Conservation International. WABNet is supported by a grant to EcoHealth Alliance (PI Kevin Olival) from the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). The South-east Asian Bat Conservation Research Unit, supported by the US National Science Founda-tion, supported the Red Listing workshop at the 4th International Southeast Asian Bat Confer-ence. Bats of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Database is supported by the Amer-ican Museum of Natural History Taxonomic Mammalogy Fund. RELCOM and the AICOMs and SICOMs Thematic Network is supported by the Programa Iberoamericano de Ciencia y Tecnología para el Desarrollo (CYTED)"


WAB-Net scientists participate in risk assessment of SARS-CoV-2 ‘spill-back’ into bat populations from people

Summary: Two WAB-Net scientists, Dr. Kevin Olival (EcoHealth Alliance) and Dr. Tigga Kingston (Texas Tech University, and a member of the WAB-Net Scientific Advisory Board) recently participated in a risk assessment led by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, to determine the threat of SARS-COV-2 ‘spill back’ from humans into bat populations. Researchers who capture and handle bats as part of their fieldwork could infect bat populations with the virus if they themselves are infected. The concern is twofold: Firstly, SARS-CoV-2 could negatively affect the health of North American bat populations – a significant concern, especially for those species already being decimated by the fungus causing white-nose syndrome. Secondly, if SARS-CoV-2 becomes established in North American bat populations, it would be difficult to eradicate the virus, and the bats could serve as a new reservoir for continued spillover into human populations."


2020 (Apri 24) - Check out Wabnet !

2020 - Jan 11

Tweet [HT005E][GDrive] - "Rapid phylogenetic analysis of novel Wuhan China human Coronavirus shows it definitely clusters with the #SARS-related CoV clade. Note: prelim analysis based on 410bp of RdRp. More analyses forthcoming, but great to see seq data being shared by China. } "

Tweet [HT005H][GDrive] - "Here's the same figure with a revised legend listing the website and partner institutions involved in generating and releasing the seq, in addition to just the Genbank number."

Tweet [HT005I][GDrive] - "I've spend the last 10 years working with governments under @PREDICTproject @NIAIDFunding and @doddtra, building the trust needed to share viral sequence and other biosurveillance data, so understand the importance and challenges of making this happen and getting it right."

2019 (Dec 11)


Dec 11, 2019

The #WABNet workshop has come to a close. Huge thank you to the teams at ⁦@EcoHealthNYC

⁩ ⁦@RSSJor

⁩ and ⁦@doddtra

⁩ for making this a success!!

Dec 11, 2019

So honored to have United Arab Emirates

Flag of United Arab Emirates

represented at #WABNet for the first time! Dr. Rashed Al Zaabi presenting results from our rapid grant writing breakout group.


Dec 11, 2019

Dr Billy Karesh ⁦@Dr_Wildlife

⁩ up at #WABNet. How to turn our research in to effective policy! ⁦@EcoHealthNYC



Kevin J Olival



Nov 27, 2019

And here’s my selfie w @KennedyNation

. Yes, 1990s @MTV

fans, that’s VJ Kennedy, now on @FoxBusiness

. So much fun hanging out with her, makes me want to convert to #libertarianism!

Nerd face

Oct 26, 2019

Tweet [HT005O][GDrive] - "Moon Bear rescue center, Chengdu, China. @AnimalsAsia There was a bear named Kevin, saved from bile farming, this is his friend. Beautiful animals, nice to see them living out happier days. "

Sep 14, 2019

Tweet [HT005P][GDrive] = "Dr Billy Karesh @Dr_Wildlife highlighting some of the many broader impacts of the @PREDICTproject in changing global policies and sharing best practices across countries and IGOs! Terima kasih to @cmachalaba for pushing a lot of this forward! #10yearsofPREDICT"

Sep 14, 2019

Tweet [HT005R][GDrive] = " .@PeterDaszak up now. Modeling is reshaping our global disease prioritization efforts. No longer do we only need to rely on expert opinion. Ten years ago @PREDICTproject Modeling & Analytics started laying the groundwork for many of these efforts. #10yearsofPREDICT "


Kevin J Olival



Apr 4, 2019

Full house here at the Cosmos Club in DC for ⁦⁦@EcoHealthNYC

⁩’s event on biothreats and biosecurity. Here ⁦@PeterDaszak

⁩ introduces Drs. Ellen Carlin and Bob Kadlec


Kevin J Olival



Dec 13, 2018

Big shout out to @cmachalaba

who won the @EcoHealthNYC

Harvey Kasdan award this year! Her positive spirit and hard work are infectious (in a good way)!



Kevin J Olival



Dec 12, 2018

Full house here at ⁦@EcoHealthNYC

⁩’s Cosmos Club event on Rift Valley Fever Virus in S. Africa. ⁦@doddtra

⁩ funded #OneHealth #DiseaseEcology research.



Kevin J Olival



Sep 20, 2018

And more amazing collaboration in #OneHealth and #bat research happening at the 1st Annual #WABNet workshop. This table: UK, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Pakistan.

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2018 (May 17)

Tweet [HT005N][GDrive] - "One day hope to grow up to be a famous bat disease ecologist too! #lifegoals Winking face A selfie here at the #Outbreak exhibit with this great pic of @EpsteinJon . @NMNH @EcoHealthNYC "

2018 (May 16)

Tweet [HT005L][GDrive] - "#Outbreak exhibit opening ceremony @NMNH tonight with @EpsteinJon . Spectacular event and crowd!"

2017 (Oct 03)

Tweet - [HT005K][GDrive] - " Full house at @EcoHealthNYC #biosecurity event here in DC. @PeterDaszak kicking it off. @BiodefenseStudy Ellen Carlin + @TomDaschle up now."

2020 (Feb 27)

KennedyNation Tweet - [HT005J][GDrive] - "Are you hungry for a #hotfreedom #MANWICH?! #Kennedy tonight w @KevinPWalling @jason_meister @realdonjamieson @nycbat @normative @SteveHiltonx talking #coronavirus #ByeByeBiden #FISAabuse & #purell 9pET/6PT only on @FoxBusiness "