2020 Connecticut Land Conservation Conference Panelist Felicia Keesing

Felicia Keesing Outside
Photo Credit Stephen Reiss for NPR

Felicia Keesing
David & Rosalie Rose Distinguished Professor of the Sciences, 
Mathematics, & Computing
Bard College
Annandale, NY 12504 USA

Where Pandemics Come From — and How to Stop Them

Presentation Description

Most emerging infectious diseases of humans, including covid-19, are caused by pathogens that have jumped to humans from other animals. Some have concluded that this must mean biodiversity is dangerous to us because natural spaces could harbor sources of potential new diseases. But recent evidence shows that areas with high natural biodiversity actually protect us. When we disturb natural habitats, the species that thrive are the ones most likely to share their pathogens with us. To explore the evidence for these connections, we will use the current covid-19 pandemic and the epidemic of tick-borne diseases in the northeastern US as case studies. 

Additional Link for More Info

'Tip of the iceberg': is our destruction of nature responsible for Covid-19? - John Vida, The Guardian (March 2020)


Felicia Keesing, David and Rosalie Rose Distinguished Professor of the Sciences, Mathematics, and Computing at Bard College in New York, U.S.A., received her Ph.D. in biology from the University of California at Berkeley. An ecologist, she studies the consequences of interactions among species, particularly as biodiversity declines. In Kenya, where she has been working for almost 25 years, she has investigated how savanna communities respond to the disappearance of large animals such as elephants and zebras. In the U.S., she studies how interactions among species influence disease risk for humans, particularly for Lyme disease and the emerging diseases anaplasmosis and babesiosis. Keesing has published dozens of research articles and book chapters, and has received more than $8 million in grant support from the National Geographic Society, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Her work has been published in a variety of journals, including Nature, Science, Ecology, Ecology Letters, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Conservation Biology, BioScience, Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, and Trends in Ecology and Evolution. In 2000, she received a United States Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) from President Clinton. In 2019, she was appointed a Fellow of the Ecological Society of America. Keesing served on the steering committees of the national conferences on Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education and was the director of an educational research project funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She has a strong interest in science literacy for college students, and recently led the design and development of a science literacy course for all first-year students at Bard College.

Where to Find Felicia Keesing

Email keesing@bard.edu | Website feliciakeesing.com


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