skip to primary navigationskip to content

Sarah Rittenhouse Beerbower

Sarah Rittenhouse Beerbower

Title: An investigation into the effects of stress on immunological markers and the mircobiome and virome of wild African apes from non-invasive samples.

Supervisor: Professor Jonathan L. Heeney


2014-Present: PhD (probationary) in Veterinary Science, Laboratory of Viral Zoonotics

University of Cambridge, UK

2012-2014: M.Phil in Biological Anthropological Science: “A Novel, Non-Invasive Method of Immune Monitoring in Wild Primate Populations: Insights into Stress Physiology from Herpes Virus Quantification in Faeces of the Western Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla).”

University of Cambridge, UK

2009-2012: B.A. (Hons., 1st Class), Archaeology & Anthropology Tripos, Biological Anthropology

University of Cambridge, UK

2008-2009: One-year liberal arts undergraduate study

Amherst College, US

Subject groups/Research projects

Infection and Immunity:

Research Interests

My interests lie in the interface of stress, particularly anthropogenic stresses on wildlife, immune function, health and infectious disease risk, and the effects of this dynamic exchange on wildlife conservation and on the potential for zoonotic and anthroponotic transmission. Zoonotic disease presents a profound threat to endangered non-human primates, like gorillas and chimpanzees, as well as to humans. It is important to obtain baseline knowledge of the ape microbiome and virome as well as how stressors such as habitat loss, close human proximity and interaction and bushmeat hunting affect the baseline composition and diversity of bacteria and viruses in their host. The development of reliable, non-invasive monitoring methods is crucial to the study of health and disease in wild primate populations and a secondary aim of this work is to establish meaningful measures of immune function and host health from non-invasive samples such as faeces.


  • Microbiome
  • Anthroponosis
  • Stress
  • Virome
  • Conservation
  • Zoonoses
  • Non-invasive methods
  • Emerging viral diseases
  • Immune function
  • Primates