Jessica Fields

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 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


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