Presenter: Jenny Tung, Ph.D., Duke University
Presentation topic: Health, Lifespans, and Fitness are all Affected by Social and Environmental Stressors
An evolutionary anthropologist and geneticist, Dr. Tung is an Associate Professor of Biology and a researcher at Duke University. In 2019, she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. Tung’s research is helping to provide a better understanding for how health, lifespans, and fitness are all affected by social and environmental stressors. Tung focused her early research on primates but is now looking to further her research with meerkats to continue to study the social interactions among them and link those interactions to other aspects of research. Tung discovered that the social environment of primates doesn't just influence the physical health and behavior of an individual, but also affects gene regulation. In a different study, she researched the same idea, but in more competitive environments such as wild meerkats. She also looked into how the different social environments affected the rest of the individual's life in terms of social status, relationships with others, and behavior. She has conducted and contributed to many other projects. Jenny Tung's most cited paper according to Google Scholar is "Social environment is associated with gene regulatory variation in the rhesus macaque immune system". Published in 2012, the paper has been cited by fields ranging from human genomics to bioethics.