Kelly Houck, a graduate associate of the Center for Galapagos Studies, was awarded the First Place in the Emerging Leader in Nutritional Immunology Competition by the American Society for Nutrition at the 2015 Experimental Biology Conference. Her presentation on Effects of Early Life Pathogenic Exposures and Obesity on Childhood Inflammation Levels in Galápagos, Ecuador comes from fieldwork she recently completed during 2013 and 2014 studying water contamination and human immune health on San Cristóbal.
Kelly’s dissertation research uses evolutionary frameworks to address the public health problems revolving around inadequate sanitation and access to clean water, along with growing concerns of childhood obesity on the island. Her work incorporates interdisciplinary methods from ethnographic interviews to environmental sampling, and human bacterial microbiology to nutrition. The theoretical contribution of this work demonstrates that childhood exposure to E. coli from contaminated water that does not result in diarrhea or acute infection, may help to regulate the human immune system and the development of anti-inflammatory networks.
Link to Abstract: http://www.fasebj.org/content/29/1_Supplement/252.7.short
Kelly’s website link: http://kellyhouck.web.unc.edu/