Dr Sharon Kessler

Lecturer in Psychology

Psychology Cottrell Building Room 3B92 Faculty of Natural Sciences

Dr Sharon Kessler

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About me

About me

​​I earned my PhD in 2014 from Arizona State University, then obtained three independent postdoctoral fellowships in computer simulation modelling (McGill University, Canada), virology (Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Germany) and disease signalling (Durham University, England). This diverse training underpins my collaborative, interdisciplinary approach to science. In 2019 I joined the University of Stirling's Psychology Department as a lecturer.

Research

My work integrates disease ecology and animal cognition. I am interested in the role of cognition in the evolution of behavioural defences against infectious disease. This has both applied and theoretical implications.

​I use a One Health approach to conservation. The One Health concept recognises 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.

I am always happy to chat with students about project ideas, so if you are interested in working with me, send me an email and I would be happy to meet with you. Possible topics also include:

A multidisciplinary approach to understanding the evolution of human healthcare networks

Human healthcare networks are unique in the animal kingdom. While many species provide care to kin (genetic relatives), humans are the only species which also provide widespread, cooperative care to strangers (i.e., doctors, nurses). Humans incorporate two overlapping, but complementary networks – kin care and stranger care. This PhD project will be a multidisciplinary investigation of how multi-level healthcare networks (kin care and stranger care) evolved in humans. It will include cross-cultural studies of the variation in healthcare networks in humans and developing interactive, game-based models which will simulate the evolution of multi-level care networks under various conditions. The results will be useful for understanding the formation, variation, and resilience of multi-level healthcare networks in humans, information that should have both theoretical and practical applications as we battle a global pandemic.

Outputs (22)

Outputs

Article

Malukiewicz J, Cartwright R, Dergam JA, Igayara CS, Kessler SE, Moreira SB, Nash LT, Nicola PA, Pereira LCM, Pissinatti A, Ruiz-Miranda CR, Ozga AT, Quirino AA, Roos C, Silva DL, Stone AC & Grativol AD (2022) The gut microbiome of exudivorous marmosets in the wild and captivity. Scientific Reports, 12 (1), Art. No.: 5049. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-08797-7

Article

Hasiniaina AF, Radespiel U, Kessler SE, Evasoa MR, Rasoloharijaona S, Randrianambinina B, Zimmermann E, Schmidt S & Scheumann M (2020) Evolutionary significance of the variation in acoustic communication of a cryptic nocturnal primate radiation (Microcebus spp.). Ecology and Evolution, 10 (8), pp. 3784-3797. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.6177

Article

Durden LA, Kessler SE, Boundenga L, Ngoubangoye B, Tsoumbou TA, Moussadji-Kinga CI, Halbwax M, Setchell JM, Nichols J & Greiman SE (2020) A New Species of Sucking Louse from the Mandrill from Gabon with a Review of Host Associations and Geographical Distributions, and Identification Keys to Members of the Genus Pedicinus (Phthiraptera: Anoplura: Pedicinidae). Journal of Parasitology, 106 (2), pp. 221-232. https://doi.org/10.1645/19-170

Article

Stekolnikov AA, Kessler SE, Matthee S, Hasiniaina AF, Radespiel U, Zimmermann E & Durden LA (2019) A new species of Schoutedenichia Jadin & Vercammen-Grandjean, 1954 from Madagascar and a re-description of S. dutoiti (Radford, 1948) from South Africa (Acariformes: Trombiculidae). Systematic Parasitology, 96 (8), pp. 703-713. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11230-019-09877-5

Article

Durden LA, Kessler SE, Radespiel U, Zimmermann E, Hasiniaina AF & Zohdy S (2018) A New Species of Sucking Louse (Phthiraptera: Anoplura: Polyplacidae) From the Gray Mouse Lemur, Microcebus murinus (Primates: Cheirogaleidae), in Madagascar. Journal of Medical Entomology, 55 (4), pp. 910-914. https://doi.org/10.1093/jme/tjy046

Book Chapter

Kessler SE (2017) Prosimian Communication. In: Vonk J & Shackelford T (eds.) Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing p. 6. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_456-1

Book Chapter

Kessler SE (2017) Capture-Recapture. In: International Encyclopedia of Primatology: Wiley. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781119179313.wbprim0006

Book Chapter

Kessler S, Radespiel U, Nash LT & Zimmermann E (2016) Modeling the origins of primate sociality: Social flexibility and kinship in mouse lemurs (Microcebus spp.). In: Lehman S, Radespiel U & Zimmermann E (eds.) Dwarf and Mouse Lemurs of Madagascar: Biology, Behavior and Conservation Biogeography of the Cheirogaleidae. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge University Press (CUP), pp. 422-446.

Article

Radespiel U, Schaber K, Kessler S, Schaarschmidt F & Strube C (2015) Variations in the excretion patterns of helminth eggs in two sympatric mouse lemur species (Microcebus murinus and M. ravelobensis) in northwestern Madagascar. Parasitology Research, 114 (3), pp. 941-954. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00436-014-4259-0