top of page



Thank you for visiting my website. My work integrates disease ecology and animal cognition. I am interested in the role of cognition in the evolution of behavioral defenses against infectious disease. This has both applied and theoretical implications.

I use a One Health approach to conservation. The One Health concept recognizes that the health of humans, animals, and the environment are inextricably connected. By better understanding how animals communicate their health statuses and perceive the health cues of group-mates, we can improve our knowledge of how animals' responses to infected group-mates influence disease transmission dynamics.  For example, if animals avoid infected group-mates, it may reduce transmission, but if they target sick and weakened competitors with aggression, it could accelerate transmission. This information can benefit conservation and zoonotic disease monitoring programs.

My work also has exciting new theoretical implications. Humans have a very unusual strategy for disease control -- we provide care to sick and infectious individuals. I am developing a novel theoretical framework which situates the evolution of human care-giving (for the sick) within the broader context of animal health and cognition.

Sharon Kessler, mandrill, monkey, primate, Durham University, CIRMF, Gabon, biology, anthropology, primatology
bottom of page