Tracing networks of disease

We revisit our conversation with biological anthropologist James Holland Jones, who explains how diseases typically spread from animal to human populations and how that might change as our planet continues to warm.  He also discusses how we might prevent future epidemics with limited vaccines by looking to community structure and identifying the key bridge populations.  It’s all about disease, hemorrhagic fever hopefully not included.

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Contributor

James Holland Jones
James Jones is a biological anthropologist with interests in biodemography, life history theory, and the human ecology of infectious disease. Biological anthropology is the study of the origins and maintenance of human diversity and the axis of diversity that defines his research interests is the stunning variation across populations and through time in the fundamental quantities of demography: age-specific mortality and fertility rates. Two major sources of variation in human mortality are the differential impact of (1) infectious disease and (2) violence across populations and through time. Theory, in turn, predicts that fertility should respond to the variation in mortality. As a consequence, James Jones see studying both infectious disease and violence as necessary predicates for understanding the diversity of the human demographic experience. His work is broadly comparative and he uses studies of nonhuman primate life histories and infectious diseases to provide a broad perspective on these phenomena in humans.

Interviewer

Max McClure
Max McClure is a science writer at the Stanford News Service and a freelance journalist. Previously, he studied biology and creative writing at Stanford, with specific interests in electrophysiology and Mexican modernism. He also plays banjo in a folk group, adopting a picking style that has been described as “cynical.”

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