July 28: Preventing Zoonotic Spillover at Its Source

Preventing Zoonotic Spillover at its Source

A Virtual Conversation with
Dr. Jamie K. Reaser, Senior Scientist & Project Director, Smithsonian National Zoological Park & Conservation Biology Institute

Thursday, July 28, at 7 PM EDT on Zoom

A recent report in Nature found that humans have altered approximately 75 percent of the planet’s terrestrial surface over the past thousand years—and almost a third of these changes have occurred since 1960. It’s a process known as land use change, in which people alter ecological systems on landscape scales—for example, floodplains developed for agricultural production or forests cleared for road building followed by timber and mineral extraction. These land use changes can have profound implications for pandemic risk.

Ecosystem health directly affects human health and should serve as a powerful incentive for ecological restoration, according to Jamie K. Reaser, PhD, senior scientist and project director, Smithsonian National Zoological Park and Conservation Biology Institute.

Dr. Reaser develops policy and programs that harness ecological strategies to prevent diseases from moving between wildlife and human populations, diseases known as zoonoses. “The protection of human health by high-functioning ecosystems is one of many ecological services—as important as provisioning clean air and water,” Dr. Reaser says.

Dr. Reaser will talk to SWINY co-chair David Levine (@dlloydlevine) about land use change and why protecting and restoring ecological systems is fundamental to preventing future pandemics.

About Dr. Jamie K. Reaser

Jamie K. Reaser, PhD, has worked in more than 70 countries as a biologist, communication psychologist, and international environmental policy negotiator. She holds a PhD in biology from Stanford University and BS in field biology from the College of William and Mary. Much of Dr. Reaser’s career has focused on delivering science into the policy context. This has included science advisory roles across the U.S. Executive Branch and multiple components of the Executive Office of the President, as well as providing direction to United Nations agencies, foreign governments, and private sector leadership.

Dr. Reaser is the author of more than 100 publications at the science-policy interface across a wide-range of environmental issues—amphibian declines, coral bleaching, climate change, invasive species, biosecurity, and infectious disease, among others. She is particularly well-known for using her multi-disciplinary expertise and multi-sector professional network to develop solutions to seemingly intractable environmental issues. Most recently, she co-developed the Land Use-induced Spillover (LUIS) paradigm for conceptualizing and strategically addressing pandemic source dynamics. As a senior scientist and project director for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoological Park and Conservation Biology Institute, she is directing a multi-year project to conduct assessments of zoonotic disease risk for all wildlife in U.S. trade. In addition to her science-policy pursuits, Dr. Reaser is widely regarded as a public figure in literary circles. She is the award-winning author of more than a dozen books in poetry and prose genres.

Thursday, July 28
7 to 8 pm EDT

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