Cara Brook

It is high summer in Madagascar and the sun beats down relentlessly on our dusty field camp. I huddle beneath an invasive pine tree in this impacted landscape, trying to protect my laptop from the bright glare of the masoandro — the “eye of the day,” as the Malagasy call their sun. “Mamay ny andro,” says…

Wildlife

I wrote to you last as a Princeton doctoral student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, where I studied the transmission dynamics of potentially zoonotic–or human-infecting–viruses carried by Malagasy fruit bats. Disease ecologists like myself use mathematical modeling tools to understand how pathogens persist in finite host populations over time–and to predict when such pathogens are most likely to pass from one individual to another. I wrapped up that PhD a few months ago and started a postdoctoral fellowship with the Miller Institute at UC Berkeley, but I’m still chasing answers to many of the same questions as before….

Changing Planet, Human Journey, Wildlife

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It’s dusk on the eve of yet another departure from Madagascar, and I find myself once again in my ever-present state of leave-taking. A year ago—true to my fomba—I quoted Steinbeck on this subject when I said my last goodbyes in Madagascar: “It would be good to live in a perpetual state of leave-taking, never…

Human Journey

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My third Thanksgiving has come and gone in Madagascar, and I think about my fiainana sambatra—my blessed life—as I explain the American fety to this month’s ekipa fanihy, the bat team. I’ve purchased a live chicken in honor of the occasion, which our masterful mpahandro, Andry, has turned from squawking feathers into fried deliciousness served…

Wildlife

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Cara Brook is a Disease Ecologist working in the Andrew Dobson Lab at Princeton. She currently studies the great bats of Madagascar—flying foxes—and the diseases that they carry that could spill over into humans. Capturing and studying wild bats, of course, requires an ability to blend in to Malagasy culture in addition to the environment…

Changing Planet

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