University Of Tasmania
Research Field: Ecology, Epidemiology, Public Health
The health of humans and the planet are naturally linked; but humans are currently changing the environment in ways that the planet and its inhabitants have never before seen. Environmental impacts like habitat destruction, pollution, and climate change, all have a negative effect on human health.
Some impacts are clear, such as how air pollution exacerbates asthma. Other impacts, like how habitat fragmentation facilitates the exchange of diseases (e.g. Hendra and Ebola) from animals to humans, are less obvious but equally important.
Dr Flies first began studying how environmental changes impact mosquitoes and ticks, and the viruses and bacteria they carry. That work helped clarify where infection risk is highest and why; information that can reduce human infections. She is now exploring the ways that cities influence human health. Cities are now home to more than half the global population and have physical and cultural differences compared to the surrounding areas.
Some diseases, like asthma and allergies and possibly also auto-immune diseases like type 1 diabetes, appear to be more common in cities. The global urban population is growing by 1 million people every week.
Through her research Dr Flies wishes to help create cities that facilitate a healthy life for all urban residents.