Members > Jennifer Cole

Research Fellow AMR, Royal Holloway, University of London

I am a biological anthropologist interested in how humans influence and adapt to changing environmental conditions, particularly in the context of the human-induced changes of the Anthropocene.

I am currently Co-PI on two projects jointly funded by the ESRC and the Indian Department of Biotechnology (DBT) under the Newton-Bhabha Fund, investigating how antimicrobial resistance emerges and spreads in agricultural environments, particularly through the farm-to-fork poultry food chain. My role in the projects is to lead social science work packages that will provide a stronger understanding of the behaviour, beliefs and relationships that drive the use of antibiotics, including mapping the flow of antibiotics into the food systems and the behavioural drivers of use.
Within this, I am particularly interested in the modernisation of Indian food systems, which are transitioning from smallholder farms that sell through wet markets direct to consumers, to intensive commercial systems that produce packaged foods (often refridgerated) to supermarkets. I am interested in the impact and potential impact of this transition on food safety and diet, on the livelihoods of the producers and on the spread of antibiotic resistance through farms, farming communities and food chains.

I have additional research interests in human evolutionary and population biology, including how we have adapted to live in modern environments, how modern conditions affect our health across the life course, and the risks posed to health when healthcare systems are disrupted or overwhelmed by conflict, disasters and emergencies.

I am interested in resilience at individual, community and national level, particularly in response to natural hazards including serious disease outbreaks, severe weather events, CBRN attcaks, flooding and climate change. From 2007-2017, I ran the Resilience and Emergency Management programme within the National Security and Resilience Department of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Secuity Studies (RUSI), a policy think tank working closely with UK goverment including the Cabinet Office, MoD, Home Office and Foreign Office.

A further research interest is in how health information is sought out, shared and trusted during health emergencies, including over peer-to-peer platforms and social media, and how relevant scientific information and advice is communicated from the authorities to the affected population.

Key research Interests: Human adaptation, resilience, antimicrobial resistance, health emergencies, planetary health