Understanding why some human populations remain persistently poor remains a significant challenge for both the social and natural sciences. The extremely poor are generally reliant on their immediate natural resource base for subsistence and suffer high rates of mortality due to parasitic and infectious diseases. Economists have developed a range of models to explain persistent poverty, often characterized as poverty traps, but these rarely account for complex biophysical processes.

Dr. Bonds, Research Associate at Dept. of Global Health & Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, has taken an innovative cross-disciplinary approach to fully couple insights from ecology and economics and investigate the complex dynamics that underlie the generation and maintenance of poverty traps. To illustrate the utility of this approach, Dr. Bonds developed a series of simple coupled models of infectious diseases, land use change and economic growth, where poverty traps emerge from nonlinear relationships determined by the positive reinforcing feedback between the natural systems, diseases and the socio-economic capital. These nonlinearities are comparable to those often incorporated into poverty trap models in the economics literature, but, importantly, here the mechanism is anchored in core ecological principles. Dr. Bonds is currently expanding his research effort in many economically important biophysical systems, such as agriculture, fisheries, nutrition, and land use change. His seminal work serves as foundation for deeper explorations of how fundamental ecological processes influence structural poverty and economic development and is aimed at informing possible intervention policies for Public Health and Development.

Holding a double PhD, in Economics (2003) and in Ecology (2006) at University of Georgia, Dr. Bonds is an inspiring speaker with a considerable experience in the field - as Interim Director of "Research of Partners in Health" in Rwanda (2009-2012) and, since 2013, Executive Director of PIVOT, an initiative on Global Health based in Madagascar.  This event is hosted by:

  • Giulio De Leo, Woods Institute for the Environment, Scientific Director of the Center for Disease Ecology, Health and Development
  • Michele Barry, Stanford School of Medicine and Chair of  the Center for Innovation in Global Health
  • Erin Mordecai, Department of Biology