129 Illick Hall
Will Helenbrook began studying primate behavioral ecology in 2002 at La Suerte Biological Field Station in Costa Rica. He Then worked in Nigeria at Pandrillus, an NGO focused on conserving the endangered drill monkey and providing sanctuary for orphaned chimpanzees. He has since completed his Masters degree in Biology at SUNY College at Buffalo and is presently a PhD student at SUNY-ESF in the Environmental and Forest Biology program.
Seventy-five percent of newly emerging diseases in humans are caused by pathogens found both in people and animals. These novel human pathogens often emerge from wildlife populations, advancing with changes in ecological conditions. Recent evidence suggests that growing disturbances such as human expansion into primary tropical forests and logging have been associated with an increase in disease transmission rates between nonhuman primates and people. Will's research therefore focuses on further understanding the role that anthropogenic disturbance has on pathogens in both human and Mantled howler monkey (Alouatta palliata) populations in Ecuador. Pathogen populations will be monitored in both host communities, influence of environmental disturbance on pathogen populations will be quantified, and a probably pathway by which ecological disturbance contributes to disease emergence will be tested. His research brings together aspects of evolutionary biology, population genetics and primate conservation.