Dr Heather Battles

Research | Current

  • Infectious disease
  • History of epidemics and pandemics
  • Historical demography
  • Historical epidemiology

My research applies a transdisciplinary biocultural approach to understanding the evolution and ecology of infectious diseases in human populations and their impacts, both social and biological. Much of my work examines the social history and mortality patterns in the epidemic emergence of poliomyelitis in the early 20th century (Canada and New Zealand), most recently in terms of the relationship between the First World War and New Zealand's 1916 polio epidemic and its aftermath. 

Teaching | Current

ANTHRO 208 Medical Anthropology

ANTHRO 337 Birth, Death, and Disease: Anthropological Demography

ANTHRO 762 Theorising Human Evolution

Postgraduate supervision

Current graduate students

Samantha Maitland (MA) - Macro-micro dialogues and mortality patterns in Soho, London.

Holly Steiner (MA) - An analysis of orangutan and siamang behaviour and spatial use at the Auckland Zoo (primary: Nic Malone)

Beatrice Hudson (PhD) - The bioarchaeology of pre-contact Māori burial practice: Differentiation in life and death - secondary supervisor (primary: Judith Littleton)

Past graduate students - MAs

Lotte van den Hout (MA) - An ethnoprimatological assessment of the orangutan human landscape in North Sumatra Province, Indonesia (primary: Nic Malone)

Rebecca Bell (MA) – Exploring gender as a mediator of micro-organism exposure and atopic disease in New Zealand preschool children. (2018)

Bobbie-Leigh Jones (MA) – The synergism between asthma, respiratory infections, and pollutants: A syndemic perspective. (2017)

Emily Ridgway (MA) - Child oral health in Northland, New Zealand: Exploring the local biology (co-supervisor with Judith Littleton) (2017)

Lakna Jayasinghe (MA) - Evaluating relationships between social support and stress response among a sample of immigrants in New Zealand: A biocultural approach - secondary supervisor (primary: Bruce Floyd) (2016)

Past graduate students - BA(Hons)

Rebecca Bell (BAHons) – Does gender socialization affect micro-organism exposure in young New Zealand children? (2016)

Bobbie-Leigh Dudley-Jones (BAHons) - Examining the biological synergism between asthma, respiratory viruses, and nitrogen dioxide using a syndemic framework (2015)

Elizabeth Thomas (BAHons) - Infectious disease in chimpanzees - secondary supervisor (primary: Nicholas Malone) (2015)


Major/Specialisation Leader for Anthropological Science (BSc) 

Areas of expertise

Biological anthropology, biosocial and biocultural approaches, infectious disease, history of epidemics, pandemics, historical demography, historical epidemiology.

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Battles, H. T. (2020). Teaching anthropological demography through project- and service-based learning: Case study of the Symonds Street Cemetery Project. Teaching Anthropology, 9 (1), 59-73. 10.22582/ta.v9i1.471
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/50542
  • Battles, H. T. (2019). In the shadow of war: the forgotten 1916 polio epidemic in New Zealand. In M. Mant, A. Holland (Eds.) Bioarchaeology of Marginalized People (pp. 181-203). Elsevier Academic Press. 10.1016/B978-0-12-815224-9.00009-9
  • Battles, H. T., & Jones, B.-L. (2018). The social geography of diphtheria mortality in Hamilton. Ontario History, 110 (1), 88-107. 10.7202/1044327ar
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/40346
  • Battles, H. T. (2017). Differences in polio mortality by socioeconomic status in two southern Ontario counties, 1900–1937. Social Science History, 41 (2), 305-332. 10.1017/ssh.2017.1
  • Battles, H. T. (2016). The biologically vulnerable boy: Framing sex differences in childhood infectious disease mortality. Boyhood Studies, 9 (2), 56-72. 10.3167/bhs.2016.09205


Contact details

Primary office location

2-6 PARK AVENUE - Bldg 529
Level 1, Room 113
New Zealand

Social links

Web links