Café Scientifique: The Island Biogeography of Human Disease

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Bill Burnside, Postdoctoral Fellow, SESYNC
Time of Event: 
Thursday, April 30, 2015 - 18:30


49 West Coffeehouse, Wine Bar and Gallery
49 West Street
Annapolis, Maryland

The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) organizes the Annapolis Café Scientifique—a place where, for the price of a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, anyone can come to explore the latest ideas in science and technology.

There is never a cover charge for Café Scientifique!

Please note: seating is limited.

Reservations are strongly suggested and sometimes required depending on attendance. Please call (410) 626-9796 to guarantee your seat or, just as importantly, to cancel your reservation so someone on the waitlist may attend.


Our understanding of the ecology and geography of the bacteria and other organisms that cause human disease lags surprisingly far behind that of larger species. We know more about where to find most species of rare birds than about many of these scourges. But if humans live almost everywhere on Earth, don’t these organisms as well? Or do they have their own distinct geography, or “biogeography?” As the latest Ebola outbreak reminded us, ecological factors and human travel affect where diseases are found. As humans travel to, inhabit, and affect more of the planet’s surface, can we better understand these relationships? Join me as we look at the geography of human parasites and pathogens on islands.


Dr. Bill Burnside is broadly interested in the economy of nature and in insights about human–environment interactions from different fields. His graduate research at the University of New Mexico examined how metabolic constraints affect ecological interaction rates in small ectotherms, foraging patterns in seed-harvester ants, and macroecological patterns in traditional and industrial human societies. At SESYNC, Bill researches ecological, economic, and social correlates of sustainability in socio-environmental systems.

Click here for more information about the Annapolis Café Scientifique.

Event type: 
Café Scientifique
Associated SESYNC Researcher(s): 
Event Attendance: 
Open to the Public
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