MEET OUR TEAM

PACVEC LEADERSHIP TEAM

Christopher M. Barker, Ph.D., M.S.

Associate Professor, Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology, University of California, Davis
PacVec Program Director

Chris Barker is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology at UC Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine. The Barker Lab studies the factors that cause outbreaks of mosquito-borne viruses. They work closely with partners in public health and mosquito control on research to inform policy for disease prevention. The Barker Lab conducts centralized diagnostic testing for arboviruses and houses web-based data platforms for mosquito and arbovirus surveillance. Current research projects focus on the biology of invasive mosquitoes, the epidemiology of Zika, dengue, and West Nile viruses, and better quantitative methods for evaluating surveillance and control.

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Peter Atkinson, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Entomology, University of California, Riverside

Peter Atkinson is a Professor of Entomology at UC Riverside. The Atkinson Lab is focuses on developing new genetic technologies which enable the safe and sustainable control of insect pests of human health and agricultural importance. We work on gene and enhancer trapping-based technologies using transposable elements and also use CRISPR/Cas-based approaches in a range of insect pest species.

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Kathleen Walker, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Entomology, University of Arizona
Assistant Specialist, Insect Discovery Outreach Program

The Walker lab studies the ecology of arthropod vectors that inhabit the peri-domestic environment, focusing on the influence of climate and human behavior on vectorial capacity. The Walker Lab has focused on Aedes aegypti on the U.S./Mexico border, investigating the interactions between climates, mosquito longevity and dengue transmission.  They are now broadening their focus to examine the ecology of Rhipicephalus sanguineus, the brown dog tick, and factors driving regional rickettsia outbreaks.

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Crystal Hepp, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems, Northern Arizona University

Dr. Crystal Hepp is an associate professor in the Informatics and Computing Program at Northern Arizona University. Hepp is interested in microbe evolution (RNA viruses), especially in zoonotic emerging infectious diseases.

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Neil J. Vickers, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Biology, University of Utah

The Vickers lab has a long-standing interest in odor-mediated behaviors and the neurobiology of olfaction in insects. Most of their previous work has focused on male moth behavior in response to female-produced pheromones and the neural basis of olfactory discrimination between closely-related species. Recently, they have become interested in the fascinating multi-sensory basis of adult female mosquito behavior and have been conducting field work in collaboration with the Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District (SLCMAD). The Vickers Lab hopes that their studies will lead not only to advances in their  understanding of the basic biology of mosquitoes but will also facilitate improvements in their control.

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Andrea Swei, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, San Francisco State University

Research in the Swei Lab employs interdisciplinary approaches to understand the factors that determine the distribution and prevalence of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases. Swei’s research focuses on several different tick-borne disease systems such as Lyme disease, babesiosis, and Borrelia miyamotoi and employ ecological theory to examine the role of disturbance, habitat fragmentation, and biodiversity on tick-borne disease ecology and public health risk.

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Tara Thiemann, Ph.D., M.S.

Associate Professor, Department of Biology, University of the Pacific

The Thiemann Lab focuses on the biology of arthropod vectors that transmit pathogens to humans and other animals. Current projects include characterizing the mechanisms for insecticide resistance in Culex tarsalis, an important vector of West Nile virus. Additional projects are focused on determining which species of mosquito are important in the transmission of dog heartworm in Northern California and on evaluating the blood feeding patterns of various vector species throughout the state.

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PACVEC PROJECT LEADS

Carde

Ring Cardé, Ph.D., M.S.

Distinguished Professor in Entomology and A.M. Boyce Chair, Department of Entomology, University of California, Riverside

Ring Cardé is a Distinguished Professor of Entomology and A.M. Boyce Chair at UC Riverside. A principal interest of the Cardé Lab is defining the navigational mechanisms that female Aedes, Anopheles, and Culex mosquitoes use to locate prospective hosts. We use 3-D video tracking to record flight tracks and landing in wind tunnels and vary the odor, visual and heat cues to understand how these stimuli are integrated for orientation.

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Lark Coffey, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology, University of California, Davis

Lark Coffey is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology at UC Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine. The Coffey Lab studies the evolution and transmission dynamics of mosquito-borne viruses including chikungunya, Zika, West Nile, and St. Louis encephalitis that are significant causes of human disease with no licensed human vaccines or treatments beyond supportive care. They are currently developing cheap and convenient improvements to surveillance in mosquitoes, approaches to increase safety of candidate live-attenuated chikungunya virus vaccines, and a primate model of human Zika virus in pregnancy.

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Anton Cornel, Ph.D.

Associate Research Entomologist, Department of Entomology and Nematology, University of California, Davis

Anton Cornel is an Associate Research Entomologist in the Department of Entomology and Nematology at UC Davis. The Cornel Lab is focused on population genetics and insecticide resistance of major vectors of human malaria in Africa and Brazil in collaboration with Gregory Lanzaro and Yoosook Lee. Other efforts are underway to study inter-epizootic zoonotic diseases of wildlife in South Africa, with a particular focus on competence, behavior, and systematics of arbovirus vectors. In addition, work on avian malaria hosts and vectors has revealed co-infecting parasite species and lineages that are likely to affect the diversity of parasite communities in time and space.

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Brian Federici, Ph.D., M.S.

Distinguished Professor in the Graduate Division, Department of Entomology, University of California, Riverside

Brian Federici is a Distinguished Professor in the Graduate Division at UC Riverside. The Federici Lab engineers new larvicidal bacteria active against all major genera of vector mosquitoes and black flies. We focus on recombining genes from Bacillus thuringiensis and Lysinibacillus sphaericus, engineering these for high levels of mosquitocidal protein synthesis. Current recombinants being considered for commercial development are ten-fold more potent than wild type strains in existing commercial products used against Aedes, Anopheles, and Culex mosquitoes. These recombinants have all been engineered to avoid resistance in mosquito populations.

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Janet Foley

Janet Foley, Ph.D., DVM

Professor, Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, University of California, Davis

Janet Foley is a Professor in the Department of Medicine and Epidemiology at UC Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine. The Foley Lab works on the ecology of vector-borne diseases with emphasis on acarids (mites and ticks). We study how climate, fire, and other human-caused changes to environments affect these parasites and how this translates to changes in risk for people and other animals.

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Gan

Jay Gan, Ph.D.

Professor of Environmental Chemistry, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of California, Riverside

Jay Gan is a Professor of Environmental Chemistry in the Department of Environmental Sciences at UC Riverside. The Gan Lab is focused on understanding movement, transformation and risks of man-made chemicals, including pesticides, in the environment, and developing strategies to mitigate adverse effects on non-target organisms and human health. Recent projects include evaluation of offsite movement of urban-use insecticides such as pyrethroids and fipronil and their toxicity to aquatic species, and environmental and human health risks of emerging contaminants such as pharmaceuticals, flame retardants and plasticizers.

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Sarjeet Gill, Ph.D.

Distinguished Emeritus and Professor of the Graduate Division, Department of Cell Biology and Toxicology, University of California, Riverside

Sarjeet Gill is a Professor of Cell Biology and Toxicology at UC Riverside. The Gill Lab has three principal research areas all utilizing a cellular and molecular approach to elucidate the mechanisms of toxicity and cell membrane transport. One research focus is to elucidate the mode of action of toxins derived from Bacillus thuringiensis and Clostridium bifermantans. The research aims to gain a molecular understanding of the characteristics of these toxins and how they interact with cellular targets, which result in a disruption of ion regulation and lethality.

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Keogh

Eamonn Keogh, Ph.D.

Distinguished Professor, Department of Computer Science & Engineering, University of California, Riverside

Eamonn Keogh is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science & Engineering at UC Riverside. The Keogh Lab studies machine learning and information retrieval, and techniques for solving similarity and indexing problems in time-series datasets. The Keogh Lab applies these techniques to design “smart traps” for the collection and identification of mosquito vectors and the pathogens that they carry.

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lanzaro

Greg Lanzaro, Ph.D., M.S.

Professor, Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology, University of California, Davis

Greg Lanzaro is a Professor in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology at UC Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine. Greg Lanzaro directs the Vector Genetics Laboratory (VGL) at UC Davis, which deals with research and training in the areas of population & molecular genetics, genomics and bioinformatics of insect vectors of human and animal disease. They have developed a program aimed at expanding knowledge that may be applied to improving control of vectorborne diseases and that addresses problems of interest in the field of evolutionary genetics. The VGL is a partnership with Dr. Yoosook Lee and Dr. Anthony Cornel.

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LeRoch

Karine Le Roch, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology, University of California, Riverside
Director Center for Infectious Disease and Vector Research

Karine Le Roch is a Professor of Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology at UC Riverside and Director of Center for Infectious Disease and Vector Research. The overall goal of the research in the Le Roch Lab is to examine new therapeutic strategies against Apicomplexan parasites. We are particularly interested by understanding how malaria parasites direct their developmental programs over the course of their infectious cycle in both of their hosts: human and Anopheles mosquitoes. Using complementary molecular, cellular and systems biology approaches, we explore the connection between chromatin structure and the parasite transcriptome.

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Hai

Rong Hai, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Virology, Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology, University of California, Riverside

Rong Hai is an Assistant Professor of Virology at UC Riverside. The Hai Lab is focused on the molecular characterization of emerging negative strand RNA viruses and discovering novel viral virulence signatures and molecular viral-host interactions. We combine molecular, biochemical, and imaging techniques to understand how viruses replicate and to explore virus-host interactions. We also have interests, driven by our research goals, in developing methods for manipulating genomes of other emerging viruses.

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li

Jun Li, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Statistics, University of California, Riverside

Jun Li is an Associate Professor in the Department of Statistics at UC Riverside. The Li Lab is focused on the development of new statistical methods in the areas of ecological statistics, statistical process control and non-parametric multivariate statistics. In this project, we will use statistical models to enhance our understanding of the relationship of vectors, the pathogens that they transmit and the environment.

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PACVEC ADMINISTRATION

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Celia Chen, MPH, CHES

PacVec Program Coordinator, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis

Celia Chen joined PacVec at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine in 2019 as a program coordinator. She earned her Master of Public Health with a focus on health promotion and education from Loma Linda University in 2019, and was certified as a health education specialist in the same year.

ABOUT US

The Pacific Southwest Center of Excellence in Vector-Borne Diseases (PacVec CoE) is funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Learn more about PacVec!

PACVEC PARTNERS

PacVec leverages the resources of UC Davis and UC Riverside with our strategic partners in academic communities, public health, and vector control to meet the needs of the Pacific Southwest. View our partners and stakeholders!

APPLIED RESEARCH

Our team of collaborators conduct applied research to develop and validate effective prevention and control tools and methods to anticipate and respond to invasive mosquitoes and disease outbreaks. To view more articles by PacVec researchers, visit PubMed.