Dr Josh Firth

Research Interests

My research is primarily aimed at understanding of how individual behaviour and ecology interact to shape social structure, and the consequences of this for social processes (such as contagions) in societies. I enjoy collaborating across various topics in biology and beyond, such as using virtual systems to understand behaviour, assessing how sociality relates to health in wild mammalian populations, developing models of assessing the spread of conservation initiatives, and working with biomedical researchers in implementing big datasets to assess human health in relation to activity patterns.

For a full description of my research, please see my website:


I graduated from Sheffield University in 2012 and moved to Oxford to begin my DPhil investigating social networks in natural populations. I then undertook an EGI Research Fellowship also based at Oxford University’s Zoology department, joined Merton College as a Junior Research Fellow in October 2017, and was awarded a BBSRC Discovery Fellowship Grant in March 2019.

  • Familiarity breeds success: pairs that meet earlier experience increased breeding performance in a wild bird population.

  • Exploring the Impact of Internet Use on Memory and Attention Processes

  • Using a real-world network to model localized COVID-19 control strategies

  • Unifying spatial and social network analysis in disease ecology.

  • iEcology: Harnessing Large Online Resources to Generate Ecological Insights

  • Spatial point locations explain a range of social network positions in a wild ungulate

  • Combining fine-scale social contact data with epidemic modelling reveals interactions between contact tracing, quarantine, testing and physical distancing for controlling COVID-19

  • Longitudinal Chimpanzee Social Networks Using Deep Learning