MARCH 5, 2021 — Eric Shattuck, assistant professor of research at the UTSA Institute for Health Disparities Research, is studying the phenomenon of social distancing in response to infectious disease and its effects on pathogen transmission and the health of individuals and communities.
Many animals, including humans, exhibit behavioral changes during the early stages of an infection, including reduced social contacts, called sickness behavior. His findings suggest innate social distancing might help prevent the infection from spreading within social groups.
“The similarities between public health directives and what we see operating on a biological level in nature is remarkable,” Shattuck said.
“For instance, we’ve been advised to keep six feet apart from others to prevent COVID transmission in case they’re asymptomatic carriers of the virus. We know that some ants have a similar strategy, where individual ants increase their physical distance to others after they recognize that there is a possible infection in the colony," Shattuck added. "This shows us that some of the most basic interventions, like social distancing, can be highly effective at preventing outbreaks, whether of COVID-19, flu, or other pathogens.”
This research has been at the center of a study titled “Infectious Diseases and Social Distancing in Nature,” the manuscript for which has been published in the journal Science. Shattuck collaborated with researchers from universities and research centers across the country and in the United Kingdom.
While the other authors have research interests in vampire bats, rodents, insects and more, Shattuck is the only author who studies humans.
“Because humans are highly social creatures with complex and varied cultures — and because culture can affect both our biology and the way that we interpret physical and emotional sensations — I use an anthropological framework that focuses on human biological and cultural variation,” Shattuck said about his research on sickness behavior.
He added that this study can start important conversations across scientific fields about integrating these normal biological responses into our thinking about disease transmission and public health. “People should listen to their bodies if they think they might be sick but we also need to work to ensure that rest, recuperation and isolation aren’t stigmatized or otherwise prevented,” Shattuck said.
In his role with the Institute for Health Disparities Research, Shattuck explores various research projects to further the mission of the Institute, which is to reduce and eliminate health disparities in South Texas through the integration of biomedical and socio-behavioral science approaches.
Another project he’s working on is an investigation of the beneficial effects of hospital arts programs on mood, pain and nausea in adult cancer patients. Along with members of the UTSA music faculty, Tracy Cowden and John Nix, Shattuck is working with the San Antonio nonprofit Hearts Need Art to collect data.
The UTSA University Career Center invites you to attend the STEM Career Expo from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feburary 8. Meet, connect and recruit UTSA students and alumni.H-E-B Student Union Ballroom, HSU 1.104-1.106
The UTSA University Career Center invites you to attend the All Majors Career Expo from 2 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feburary 8. Meet, connect and recruit UTSA students.H-E-B Student Union Ballroom, HSU 1.104-1.106
This competition is for students who are working on a project and prototype and want to assess the market opportunity and commercial potential of their technology in a risk-free environment.Science and Engineering Building, SEB 1.150G
Citation managers such as Zotero® can help you store and organize the citations you find during your research. Zotero can also generate bibliographies in various styles, insert in-text citations and allow you to share sources with collaborators.Virtual event
Chiquita Collins, vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer at UT Health San Antonio, will virtually engage in conversation regarding the 2023 Black History Month theme, “Resistance. Persistence. Excellence.”Virtual event
The Carlos Alvarez College of Business and the Alvarez Student Success Center will host their Second Annual Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Symposium. The theme for this year is inclusive leadership. The featured keynote speaker will be Melissa Majors, author of “The 7 Simple Habits of Inclusive Leaders.”H-E-B Student Union Ballroom, HSU 1.106
Join your fellow Roadrunners for the annual Heart Health Walk. If you can’t meet up on campus, get outside and walk for at least 10 minutes at 9 a.m. Walkers are encouraged to wear red and post their pictures to Instagram using the hashtag #28DaysOfHeartAtUTSA.Rowdy Statue, Sombrilla Plaza
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.
UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.
The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.