Human Ecology of Infectious Disease

Faculty in the Ecology, Environment, and Evolution concentration in the Department of Anthropology have expertise in analyzing the role played by human behavior, social organization, and interactions with their biophysical environment on the transmission of infectious disease, the potentiation of epidemics, and the possibilities for control and eradication of infectious diseases. Specific areas of expertise include the role of heterogeneous contact networks on epidemic outcomes (Jones), anthropogenic environmental change and emerging infectious disease (Jones, Durham), the global political economy of tropical infectious disease and health more generally (Durham, Curran, Jones), species interactions and the potential for zoonotic spillover (Jones).

EE faculty working on the human ecology infectious disease maintain diverse collaborations with scholars in global health at Stanford (e.g., Departments of Medicine, Pediatrics, Health Policy and Behavior, Microbiology and Immunology, Biological Sciences, Environmental and Earth Systems). The faculty are currently managing major research projects externally-supported by organizations include NASA, NIAID, and NSF. Durham and Jones co-teach a highly interdisciplinary course on anthropogenic environmental change and emerging infectious disease that serves as a jumping-off point for students interested in the field and engages undergraduates from multiple majors, especially Human Biology and Earth Systems.

Students working in this area have pursued research on the human ecology of malaria in the Colombian Amazon, the health and livelihood consequences of oil palm development, social networks of sex workers, the role of bushmeat trade in spillover potential of primate retroviruses.