Richard Ostfeld and Felicia Keesing, husband-and-wife researchers in upstate New York, are studying why Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses are getting worse.

Bard College Biology Professor Felicia Keesing Wins Prestigious National Science Foundation Grant

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.— The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Felicia Keesing, Bard College’s David and Rosalie Rose Distinguished Professor of Science, Mathematics, and Computing, a $241,000 grant for a project to write two papers that—drawing on Keesing’s 25 years of research into linkages between ecology, conservation, and health—aim to provide better conceptual frameworks for the study of the impact of biodiversity on plant, animal, and human health. The NSF grant includes funding for travel to conferences and salaries for several undergraduate research assistants over a two-year period.

As the climate warms and rates of local and global extinctions accelerate, understanding connections between the environment and the health of plants, animals, and humans has become increasingly urgent. While the field of disease ecology has held great promise because of the expectation that its practitioners can facilitate predictions and guide ecological interventions to mitigate health concerns connected to the environment, Keesing says that, too frequently, predictions come too late to be useful, and plans for mitigation must await years of data collection. Her project, “A synthesis of the effects of biodiversity on plant, animal, and human health,” looks to provide predictive frameworks that allow practitioners to take advantage of the results of prior research, adapting them to new situations as these arise.

“Ecology is increasingly seen as a key ally of the health sciences, but concrete examples of how ecology can productively inform health policy remain relatively scarce,” Keesing says. “The proposed syntheses could impact environmental policies that affect the health of humans, other animals, and plants, in part by framing research questions that urgently require exploration and explication.”

Post Date: 02-18-2020

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