San Diego Management & Monitoring Program

The State of Biodiversity (San Diego Natural History Museum) - Session 3

April 15, 2021 9:00am to April 15, 2021 10:30am

April 15 - Pandemic-Era Science

The past year has sparked broad interest in infectious disease, with particular attention to those viruses with origins in the animal world. In this wide-ranging panel, speakers will discuss both the effect of biodiversity on disease and the effect of disease on biodiversity.

Dr. Chelsea L. Wood will discuss recent quantitative findings that illuminate the surprising relationship between biodiversity and disease risk for the world's most burdensome infectious diseases of humans (including zoonotic and vector-borne diseases). She is an assistant professor in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington. Her research program explores the ecology of infectious disease in a changing world. Dr. Mrinalini Erkenswick Watsa will share how a decentralized model for rigorous wildlife disease surveillance might address the global health risks associated with wildlife exploitation. She serves San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance as a researcher and the 2020 Bud Heller Fellow in Population Sustainability. Her current work is focused on using field-based genomics techniques on rare species for in situ analyses of conservation genetics. Dr. Erik Hofmeister will talk about his work with established regionally-relevant zoonotic diseases like West Nile virus and sylvatic plague. He is a research virologist at the US Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center.

Dr. Robert Montgomery will explore how the COVID-19 quietus has impacted animal ecology and conservation. He is the co-founder and managing director of Oxford GAV Conservation Venture Studio, where he works to address the most critical challenges facing the planet, including climate change, novel viruses, energy crises, food security, and ocean plastics.

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