Monday workshop
Monday, April 8, 2024 - 3:30pm

392 Cohen Hall

Microbial Entanglements and the Symbiopolitics of More-than-Human Health

With climate change on the rise and its impact on ecologies and biodiversity, epizootics present a considerable threat to public health and health security globally. Specifically, this paper examines the deterioration of amphibian and frog populations due to the ongoing menace of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), a global microbiotic pathogen. Based on 18 months of fieldwork in Panama, this paper sheds light on the ecological and multispecies relations that figure prominently in global health and natural products research. Natural products scientists study the chemical properties of "naturally" occurring compounds in biodiversity-rich regions worldwide for potential pharmaceutical developments and biomedical interventions. Concerned with biodiversity decline, natural products scientists research microbiotic communities on the skin of the Panamanian poison frog to detect new chemical compounds for drug development that may enable the survival of other amphibians. This paper focuses on the potential of multispecies and microbial experimentation in reengineering biotic materials beyond human health and economic speculation. I trace shifting concepts and uses of life and highlight natural products scientists' forms of multispecies care in contributing to more livable worlds. 

Alberto E. Morales is an Assistant Professor of Global Sustainability and Health in the Department of Global Studies & Modern Languages at Drexel University. Before joining Drexel University, he was a Postdoctoral Research Associate and Lecturer in the Program for Latin American Studies and the Department of Anthropology at Princeton University. Morales received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California, Irvine, and a B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of California, Irvine. His research interests lie at the intersections of bioeconomy, biotech sciences, global health equity, and multispecies relations in the life sciences.