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2020 Bruce McEwen Fellows

Gregory Albery, Georgetown University

Greg Albery is investigating the epidemiological consequences of social ageing in a long-lived mammal. He will be using the long-term study of red deer on the Isle of Rum to investigate how natural helminth infection changes as individuals age and become less social. This research will answer whether age-related decreases in social behaviour could act to counteract age-related decreases in immunity.

Nick Keiser, University of Florida

Nick Keiser studies behavioral disease ecology in a diversity of host-parasite systems. His proposed work will assess the interactions between individual and social determinants of infectious disease risk. Using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and an entomopathogenic fungus, he will test the degree to which sex and age disparities in disease vary across host genotypes and explain group-level differences in outbreak dynamics. He uses replicated social groups of individually-marked flies of known genotypes to link infection dynamics to individuals’ behavioral traits and factors of their social environments.

Camille Testard, University of Pennsylvania

As a Bruce McEwen fellow, Camille will investigate whether social support can protect the brain from stress-induced neurological changes in a population of rhesus macaques who survived a devastating hurricane.

Nicole Thompson González, University of New Mexico

Nicole’s project aims to use the blue monkeys of the Kibale National Forest, Uganda as a model for human health inequalities that result from social exclusion. In collaboration with Michelle Brown, she will be evaluating whether immune dysregulation is a prominent pathway that inter-species competition and environmental stressors are hindering the health and growth of the Ngogo blue monkey population.

2020 Travel Fellowship Winners

Daniella Chusyd, Indiana University

Daniella is studying how early life trauma in elephants relates to their health, behavior, and aging. To do so she is studying elephants that have experienced poaching to understand how those experiences may mediate the effects of ticks on disease severity. She hopes to leverage the similarities between humans and elephants and utilize these similarities in translational research where they may offer the potential to further human aging research.

Tobin Hammer, University of Texas at Austin

Recent research has found that gut microbiomes become destabilized in the elderly, possibly compromising the essential functions that they provide. Like humans, bumble bees are highly social animals that rely on gut microbes for nutrition and defense from pathogens and microbiome destabilization in bumble bees has been linked to aging. Tobin will use this fellowship to initiate a collaboration with Dr. James Crall, who has pioneered behavioral tracking in bumble bees, combining these methods with microbiome analyses, we aim to gain insights into the links between social behaviors, microbiome stability, and host health.

Laura Newman, New York University

Laura’s project investigates the senescence associated secretory phenotype (SASP) which is thought to be a core component of the aging process. She will measure SASP expression in several tissues from rhesus macaques of different ages to see how SASP changes with age, and if social integration modulates age-related changes in SASP expression. Results from this study will clarify how social integration affects the molecular mechanisms involved in the aging process, and in turn influences aging phenotypes, and will help to inform our understanding of the aging process.