The Intersection of Human, Animal, and Environmental Health: Case Studies for the High School Educator
Jessica Fields is a senior at Brown University studying Health and Human Biology. She is interested in the intersections of environmental and social determinants of health and has a passion for education and curriculum design.
Advisor: Katherine Smith, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Talk at poster session:
Hello, I’m Jessica Fields, and I am a senior concentrating in Health and Human
Biology. For my project, I have brought together my academic interest in how
environmental change impacts human health and a long-standing passion for
curriculum design. I have created a collection of educational resources about the
ways human health, animal health, and global environmental change are inter-
More than half of human infectious diseases are caused by pathogens shared with
wild or domesticated animals. These types of pathogens are called “zoonoses.”
Zoonotic disease spread is highly influenced by the ecology of both animal and
human hosts as well as by broader environmental conditions.
Humans are changing the environment in three major ways: changing the way
land is used, changing how people and animals move across the globe, and
changing the climate. Each of these environmental impacts is making it easier for
pathogens to jump from animals to people, contributing to the emergence and
spread of zoonotic disease.
For my project, I have created two tangible products. The first is an educational
module, geared towards the high school level, about the ways land-use change
impacts zoonotic disease spread. The module is comprised of three specific case
studies—one about Lyme disease in the northeastern United States, one about
wildlife hunting and virus spread in Cameroon, and one about Nipah Virus in
Malaysia. I hope that in the coming years, this module can serve as a template
for the development of additional teaching materials about the linkages between
health and environmental change.
The second component of my project is a short stop-motion animation video for
Brown Professor Casey Dunn’s collaborative blog CreatureCast.org. The video
serves as a broad overview of how human, animal, and environmental health are
related and aims to communicate information from the best available scientific
literature to a general audience with as little jargon as possible.
Along with my poster, I will be playing my animation on an iPad here today, and
look forward to sharing it with you. Thank you all so much for joining us here at
Theories in Action, and I am excited to hear more about my classmates’ amazing