BIO A 413 A: Human-Primate Interface: Implications for Disease, Risk, and Conservation

Meeting Time: 
TTh 10:30am - 12:20pm
DEN 212

Syllabus Description:

BIOA 413: Human-Primate Interface: Implications for Disease Risk and Conservation

Monkey skulls and traditional medicines

Spring 2019

Denny Hall 212

Tues and Thurs 10:30-12:20

Instructor: Dr. Lisa Jones-Engel 

Email: For course related questions:

  1. First check to see if the answer is in the syllabus or on our Canvas course website
  2. Use the course Discussion Forum to ask general questions so the rest of the class can benefit
  3. Only use email for personal questions you don’t want others to see or which would not be of interest to other students (
  4. Be sure to use good email etiquette (refer to the end of this syllabus)

Office Hours: By appointment in Denny Hall 128 



A growing literature suggests that cross-species transmission of infectious agents occurs between humans and several nonhuman primate species in a variety of contexts and in diverse geographic areas.  Whether cross-species transmission occurs depends on a number of factors, including the prevalence of infectious agents present in the human and primates reservoirs, the contexts of interspecies contact, and the frequency and type of contact that occurs. This course is a multidisciplinary approach to exploring the complex human-primate interface.  We will delve into the challenges of mitigating the impact of primate-borne infectious diseases on public health as well as conserving free-ranging primate populations in the 21st century.  

This is a seminar course which will rely heavily on primary literature drawn from diverse fields. Each week during the quarter we will cover a different topic, all of which are interrelated and span multiple disciplines.

BioA413 is a relatively new course and I am expecting that students will have a wide range of experience with the topics that we will be covering. To facilitate learning, as well as to mirror the reality of working at the human-primate interface, groups composed of students with complimentary backgrounds/skills will be established. The fullest understanding of the diverse material presented in this class requires a collaborative discourse. Therefore, it is imperative that students come to each class prepared to participate in discussions.  This means that students will have read, annotated and thought carefully about readings before class starts.  

II. Course Outcomes (or “what I expect you to walk out of this course with”)

  A working knowledge of course related aspects of:

  1. Primate zoonoses
  2. Anthropozoonoses
  3. Diverse contexts of the human-primate interface
  4. The capacity to discuss and critically analyze how both human and primate behavior and ecology influences the transmission of infectious agents across the increasingly porous human-primate interface
  5. An understanding of the conservation management techniques and tools that are being used to reduce the risk of bi-directional disease transmission
  6. The ability to critically read, analyze and synthesize primary literature from a variety of disciplines

III. Format and Procedures: 

Note that this a seminar course and I do not intend to post lectures on Canvas. We will be covering a lot of compelling material while working daily in small groups and it is important that you commit to attending all the lectures and completing all of the readings.

Text: There is one required book for this course: Spillover by David Quammen. There will be dozens of additional primary literature readings that will be assigned throughout the course. These will be made available as PDFs on the course website. 


  1. Come to class on Tuesday and Thursday prepared to discuss in depth the assigned readings
  2. Every Tuesday you will turn in at the start of class completed Primate and Pathogen assignment
  3. Every Thursday you will turn in at the start of class a completed Critical Analysis

IV. ACCOUNTABILITY TO HIGH ACADEMIC STANDARDS: Please know that in all the courses that I teach, whether face-to-face or online, I hold you and myself to the highest academic standard because I care about you and your education. Honest, ethical conduct are integral components of the academic process. An environment of academic integrity is requisite to respect for self and others and a civil community. Academic integrity includes a commitment to not engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation or deception.  Such acts of dishonesty include cheating or copying, plagiarizing, submitting another persons’ work as one’s own, using Internet sources without citation, taking or having another student take your exam or working together with other students on your exam, tampering with the work of another student, facilitating other students’ acts of academic dishonesty, etc.

Unless I specify otherwise, all assignments and examinations are to be completed by the student alone, without inappropriate assistance of any kind.

Students who are found to be dishonest will receive academic sanctions, such as an “F” grade on the assignment, exam, and/or in the course.  They will also be reported to the University of Washington’s Community Standards and Student Conduct. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. for possible further disciplinary action. 

V. ACCOMMODATIONS: Please let me know as early as possible how I can best support your learning style.


Primate and Pathogen Reports: due every Tuesday at the start of class: There are more than 500 species of primates and 1000’s of infectious agents! During this course, we will only be able to discuss a fraction of the extraordinary diversity of primates and pathogens that are present at the human-primate interface.  For you to get exposure to a broader array of primates and pathogens you will need to do some research outside of class to fill in a form that is available on the course website and that asks for:

Genus; species; common name; geographic distribution; characteristics of the interface and 2 interesting facts about any primate of your choice. Common name; mode of transmission; geographic distribution; manifestations in humans; manifestations in primates and 2 interesting facts about any pathogen of your choice. Do not give me the same primate species or pathogen twice during the course.  I will not accept any late reports.

Article Critical Analysis: due every Thursday before the start of class: Each week you will find and critically analyze an article related to the topic that we are focusing on that week. Use the Template for Taking Notes on Primary Literature that is on the course website. Do not rely on popular media articles—use only primary literature. Links to online resources for primates, pathogens and primary literature relevant to this course are found on the course’s Canvas website under the Library Guide for BIOA413 link. Your article must be about an infectious agent that is being studied in primates (captive, pet, laboratory, zoo, wild, performing, sanctuary, etc).

Quizzes: Pop quizzes will be administered during the quarter. These quizzes will be cumulative and will cover the readings and lectures. 

MIDTERM: Due May 16th @5pm  Each student will identify a topic (preferably other than one of those being covered during the course) then select, critically read and analyze 5 sources of primary literature (e.g. peer-reviewed research (not review) articles, not popular media articles). 1000-1500 words. No late papers will be accepted.

Here are just a few topic ideas for your Midterm: Emerging and reemerging pathogens in lab primates; Role of anthropogenic activities on disease transmission; Rabies; Herpes B; Treponemal infections; Primates as pets in the USA; Primate rehabilitation/sanctuaries; Role of cultural transmission (primate and/or human) on disease transmission; Primates in Folk medicine; Yellow fever; Dengue; Scabies; bushmeat hunting in South America or Asia; global distribution of bushmeat hunting; crop-raiding at the human-primate interface; primates as pets in habitat countries; primate self-medication; historical and contemporary international trade of primates; role that Team Science plays in monkey health.

FINAL GROUP PRESENTATION: During the last week of class each group will present a 30 minute, multidisciplinary lecture on a topic that is relevant to the human-primate interface. More information about these projects will be forthcoming.

VII. Grades will be assigned the grade-point equivalent based upon your overall score. You can find UW's standard grade chart at

VIII.  Inclusivity Statement

We understand that our members represent a rich variety of backgrounds and perspectives. The University of Washington’s Anthropology program/department is committed to providing an atmosphere for learning that respects diversity. While working together to build this community we ask all members to:

  • share their unique experiences, values and beliefs
  • be open to the views of others
  • honor the uniqueness of their colleagues
  • appreciate the opportunity that we have to learn from each other in this community
  • value each other’s opinions and communicate in a respectful manner
  • keep confidential discussions that the community has of a personal (or professional) nature
  • use this opportunity together to discuss ways in which we can create an inclusive environment in this course and across the University of Washington community


Students are strongly encouraged to make use of the Department of Anthropology’s writing center for guidance on improving their writing skills. The Anthropology Writing & Research Center (AWRC) provides assistance and support with composition, rhetoric, and other writing skills to Anthropology undergraduates and graduate students. They can help you improve writing assignments you may have, enhance your writing and research skills in general, and increase your comfort with the both the writing and research processes. AWRC provides assistance at all points in research and writing, from brainstorming ideas to outlining to specific skills (e.g. writing effective introductions, evaluating arguments, proper citation and referencing, etc.). We also have a number of useful reference materials for your perusal. You can make an appointment with us, or walk in during our office hours in Denny 423. Further details about making appointments, AWRC hours, appointment length, and center policies can be found at the URL below. If you have any questions, feel free to email the AWRC at  Center Website:




Email style








Catalog Description: 
A multidisciplinary approach to exploring the transmission of pathogens at the human-primate interface. Delves into the challenges of mitigating the impact of primate-borne infectious diseases on public health as well as conserving free-ranging primate populations in the twenty-first century. Offered: Sp.
Department Requirements: 
Human Evolutionary Biology Option
Medical Anthropology & Global Health Option
GE Requirements: 
Natural World (NW)
Last updated: 
April 14, 2020 - 9:10pm