Dr. Alexander researches how human behavior can influence the emergence of infectious disease in humans and animals, particularly in Africa.
In Africa, a major consequence of the immunosuppressive effects of HIV infections in humans has been the dramatic rise in secondary infections, which cause significant human mortality, such as malaria and tuberculosis, and may also permit new diseases to invade humans from wildlife including Ebola, Lassa, and Marburg. Dr. Alexander has established a field laboratory in Northern Botswana which has both molecular genetics and bacteriological investigations capacity—the first of its kind in the region. There, she studies the interactions between humans and local wildlife (including African dogs, elephants, lions, and the banded mongoose) in regards to disease transmission. She is also president of Caracal, a not-for-profit agency that exists to support this mission. Her overall goal is to increase the ability to manage and maintain healthy ecosystems which support both biodiversity and human populations.