Hillary Young is a community ecologist interested in cascading effects of wildlife decline and landuse change, particularly as they effect human health and well-being.
Hillary completed her undergraduate degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University. She worked for the UN Development Program for one year, before continuing on to pursue a Master's degree in Environmental Management at Yale University's School of Forestry and the Environment. She then worked for the Massachusetts Audubon Society, before returning to school for a Ph.D. in Biology at Stanford University, which she received in 2010. For her doctoral dissertation Hillary examined the far reaching effects, and mechanisms, of small changes in community composition on ecological structure and function of terrestrial communities in the central Pacific.
As a HUCE Environmental Fellow, Hillary will be continuing the work she started as a postdoctoral researcher at Smithsonian Institution and Stanford University, examining the effect of declines in large mammals in Africa on human disease risk. Declines in native large wildlife populations have been a great source concern to ecologists and conservationists for many years. However, we still have a very incomplete understanding of the indirect effects of wildlife reductions and subsequent land-use alteration and particularly how such changes may affect human well-being. This is a prerequisite to deciding where and how to address this problem. With the support of hosts Dr. Charles Nunn (Department of Human Evolutionary Biology) and Dr. Marc Lipsitch (School of Public Health), she hopes to unite field ecology with epidemiology and models of land use change, to explore how loss of large mammals and associated land-use change can trigger an increase in human disease risk via indirect trophic effects of defaunation on host communities of small mammals and their ectoparasites.
Please visit Hillary's website to learn more about her work.