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Charles Nunn

Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology and Global Health
Trinity College of Arts and Sciences
Evolutionary Anthropology

Trent 212
(919) 660-7281

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Charlie Nunn


I am interested in the ecology and evolution of infectious diseases in wildlife, with special interest in primates and other mammals. In addition to addressing basic questions about wildlife diseases, my research has application to understanding zoonotic disease risk and the conservation of biodiversity. Many of my research projects involve large-scale informatics datasets on mammalian parasites, with the aim to understand patterns of disease risk in natural systems and at the human-wildlife interface. I also model the spread of infectious agents in wild populations, including heterogeneities in contact structure based on knowledge of primate behavior and ecology.

More recently, I am developing projects on ecological networks, including original fieldwork in Madagascar on insect vectors and the agents they transmit to mammals in disturbed and undisturbed environments. I am excited to be teaching two courses through DGHI and my home department - Evolutionary Anthropology - including courses that consider the role of infectious disease in human evolution and in today's world.



Title Number Level Semester Requirements Fulfilled
Primate Disease Ecology and Global Health
Crosslisted as EVANTH 385D

Covers concepts of disease ecology, with specific application to primates, human evolution, and global health. Explores the epidemiology and evolution of infectious diseases through the primary literature, focusing on infectious diseases of wild primates, humans, and other mammals. Students learn about the diversity of infectious diseases found in humans, and the basics of epidemiology, disease evolution and emergence, and primate behavioral ecology. Students also gain experience in thinking critically about scientific research, identifying interesting research questions, and communicating science to others. Prerequisite: EVANTH 101/101D or Introductory-level biology.

Course Notes:
UG Only SPRING 2018 MINOR: Elective
MAJOR: Foundations - Natural Science
MAJOR: Focused Study
Human Health in Evolutionary Perspective
Crosslisted as GLHLTH 304D

No course description available

Course Notes:
UG Only FALL 2017 MAJOR: Foundations - Natural Science
MINOR: Elective
MAJOR: Focused Study
Human Health in Evolutionary Perspective

Covers evolutionary approaches to understand human health at a global scale. Integration of evolutionary thinking and medical science provides new insights to a wide array of medical issues including obesity, cancer, allergies, and mental illness. Evolutionary perspectives reveal why some pathogens are more harmful than others, shed light on the origins and spread of infectious diseases in humans, and help in controlling antibiotic resistance. Evolutionary approaches provide insights as to why we age and provide solutions to alleviate human health problems that often differ from modern medical practice. Course will place these perspectives in the context of global health challenges

Course Notes:
UG Only FALL 2016 MAJOR: Focused Study
MINOR: Elective


Recent Publications

Bray, J., D.R. Samson, and C.L. Nunn (in press). Evidence from seven captive lemur species that cathemerality is the ancestral state of Lemuridae. American Journal of Primatology.

Young H., D.J. McCauley, R. Dirzo, C.L. Nunn, M.G. Campana, B Agwanda, E.R. Otarola-Castillo, E.R. Castillo, R.M. Pringle, K.E. Veblen, D.J. Salkeld, K. Stewardson, R. Fleischer, E.F. Lambin, T.M. Palmer, K.M. Helgen (in press, 2017). Interacting effects of land use and climate on rodent-borne pathogens in central Kenya. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.

Nesse, R.M., C.E. Finch, and C.L. Nunn (in revision). Does selection for short sleep duration explain human vulnerability to Alzheimer’s disease? Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health.

Nunn, C.L. and T. Gillespie (2016). Infectious disease and primate conservation. Pp. 157 to 168 in: An Introduction to Primate Conservation, edited by S.A. Wich and A.J. Marshall. Oxford University Press.

Sandel, AA, J.A. Miller, J.C. Mitani, C.L. Nunn, S.K. Patterson, and L.Z. Garamszegi (2016). Assessing sources of error in comparative analyses of primate behavior: intraspecific variation in group size and the social brain hypothesis. Journal of Human Evolution.

Stephens, P.R., S Altizer, K.F. Smith, A.A. Aguirre, J. H. Brown, S.A. Budischak, J.E. Byers, T.A. Dallas, T.J. Davies, J.M. Drake, V.O. Ezenwa, M.J. Farrell, J.L. Gittleman, B.A. Han, S. Huang, R.A. Hutchinson, P. Johnson, C.L. Nunn, D. Onstad, A. Park, G.M. Vazquez-Prokopec, J.P. Schmidt, and R. Poulin (2016). The macroecology of infectious diseases: a new perspective on global-scale drivers of pathogen distributions and impacts. Ecology Letters.

Nunn, C.L., D.R. Samson and A. Krystal (2016). Shining evolutionary light on human sleep and sleep disorders. Evolution, Medicine and Public Health.

MacLean, E.L. and C.L. Nunn (in press). Phylogenetic approaches for research in comparative cognition. American Psychological Association Handbook.

Samson, D.R., A.N. Crittenden, G. Yetish, I. Mabulla, A.Z.P. Mabulla, and C.L. Nunn (in press). What is segmented sleep? Actigraphy field validation for daytime sleep and nighttime wake. Sleep Health.

Borries, C., A.A. Sandel, A Koenig, E. Fernandez-Duque, J.M. Kamilar, C.R. Amoroso, R.A. Barton, J. Bray, A. Di Fiore, I.C. Gilby, A.D. Gordon, R. Mundry, M. Port, L.E. Powell, A.E. Pusey, A. Spriggs, C.L. Nunn (in press). Transparency, usability, and reproducibility: a four-step plan toward improved comparative databases using primates as examples. Evolutionary Anthropology.

Dunn, R.R., C.L. Nunn, and J.E. Horvath (in press). The Global Synanthrome Project: A call for an exhaustive study of human associates. Trends in Parasitology.

Young, H., I.M. Parker, G.S. Gilbert, A.S. Guerra, and C.L. Nunn (2016). The role of introduced species in biodiversity-disease relationships. Trends in Ecology and Evolution.

Samson, D.R., M. Manus, A. Krystal, E. Fakir, J.J. Yu and C.L. Nunn (in revision). Segmented sleep in a non-electric, small-scale agricultural society in Madagascar. American Journal of Human Biology.

Samson, D.R., A. Crittenden, I. Mabulla, A. Mabulla, and C.L. Nunn (in revision). Hadza sleep ecology: evidence for flexible sleep-wake patterns in hunter-gatherers. American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Springer, A., P.M. Kappeler, and C.L. Nunn (in press). Dynamic vs. static social networks in models of parasite transmission: Predicting Cryptosporidium spread in wild lemurs. Journal of Animal Ecology.

Nunn, C.L., A.Q. Vining, D. Chakraborty, and H.S. Young (in revision). Effects of vector preferences and host extinction on vector-borne disease risk in phylogenetically structured host-vector communities. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.