Date of release: Tuesday, April 11, 2017

NRIMaking rapid and dramatic changes to the environment can not only seriously damage biodiversity and habitats, but risks spreading life-threatening diseases to people, according to Dr Frances Hawkes.

In a public lecture on Wednesday 19 April, Dr Hawkes, of the Natural Resources Institute at the University of Greenwich, will draw on her research into the emergence of a new species of malaria parasite in Malaysia.

The new malaria parasite was first identified in humans 13 years ago. Research has since revealed that it spread from monkeys to people via tiny forest-dwelling mosquitoes, most likely after land was cleared to make way for intensive farming of products like palm oil.

Dr Hawkes, a member of the university's Faculty of Engineering & Science, says: "The scale and speed with which we make changes to our environment can have completely unexpected impacts on people living and working in the area."

During her lecture, Human & ecosystem health: The case of Malaysia's mysterious malaria, Dr Hawkes will stress the importance of understanding mosquito behaviour and ecology to monitor and control the insects and the potentially fatal diseases they spread.

She will talk about how the proximity between people, monkeys and mosquitoes has changed in recent years, and how such changes may have increased the potential for new disease outbreaks. She will also explore the regional history of malaria.

Dr Hawkes is a member of both the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and the Royal Entomological Society.

The lecture will be held in the Ward Room, Pembroke Building, at the University of Greenwich's Medway Campus. It starts at 6.30pm and will be followed by light refreshments. Places are free but limited.

To register, call 020 8331 9800 or email

Story by Public Relations

Picture: Dr Frances Hawkes setting a mosquito trap.