2019-2020 TRAINING GRANT RECIPIENTS
“Identification of biochemical signatures of pyrethroid resistance in invasive Aedes aegypti”
Erin “Taylor” Kelly, BS, Trainee
Erin “Taylor” Kelly is a Ph.D. student in vector biology, interested in vector metabolism, reproduction, and mechanisms of insecticide resistance. Kelly completed her Bachelor of Science in biology and minor in chemistry at Santa Clara University. Kelly is currently looking forward to taking her qualifying exam, but her long-term goal is to lead a research team as a faculty member at a major research institution or work as a vector biologist at the state or district level.
Geoffrey Attardo, PhD, PI, University of California, Davis
The Attardo lab centers around the reproductive biology of insect vectors of human disease. The primary subjects of his work have been mosquitoes and tsetse flies. Attardo has studied how female mosquitoes regulate gene expression in response to blood feeding. He also studies the reproductive biology of tsetse flies, unique insects that lactate and give birth to live young. This work covers multiple areas of reproduction in tsetse including nutrition; analysis of genes associated with reproduction; the role symbiotic bacteria play in tsetse reproduction; and the interactions between insect vectors and the parasites they vector.
“Transcriptomic profiles of Ixodes pacificus under acaricide treatment and host blood meal“
Kacie Ring, BS, Trainee
Kacie Ring is a master’s student in microbiology at San Francisco State University. She is interested in tick-borne pathogens and the borrelialcidal effect of the lizard bloodmeal. For her master’s thesis, she is testing the effect of host blood meal on vectoral capacity by examining differential gene regulation in Ixodes pacificus nymphs that have either fed on lizards or mice as larvae. Ring plans to continue her research on tickborne pathogens and tick prevention when she begins her Ph.D. in fall 2020.
Andrea Swei, PhD, PI, 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.
“Identification of social determinants of health associated with Aedes aegypti prevalence across Maricopa County“
Whitney Holeva-Ecklund, BS, Trainee
Whitney Holeva-Ecklund is a Ph.D. student in interdisciplinary health at Northern Arizona University. Holeva-Eklund’s work in Dr. Crystal Hepp’s lab focuses on understanding the relationship between health equity and the invasive mosquito vector Aedes aegypti in Maricopa County, Arizona. She hopes that these projects will directly inform mosquito control practices in Maricopa County, Arizona by creating a better understanding of mosquito habitat that will allow vector control units to employ mosquito control efforts in an extremely targeted fashion that conserves resources and decreases the risks associated with overuse of pesticides. Her career goals are to be able to contribute to research and applied work that uses an interdisciplinary approach to understand current health challenges such as the impact of climate change on health and emerging infectious diseases.
“Larval ecology of invasive Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes in southern California“
Xiaoming Wang, PhD, MSc, Trainee
Xiaoming Chloe Wang is a postdoctoral fellow in vector biology at the University of California, Irvine. In the long-term, Wang would like to establish a career as a leading faculty researcher in vector biology at a major research university, a vector biologist at a state health department, or local mosquito and vector control district.
Guiyun Yan, PhD, PI, University of California, Irvine
The Yan Lab examines epidemiology of vector-borne diseases and vector biology. For malaria, the research addresses the ecological mechanisms of malaria epidemics in high-elevation areas in Africa, impact of environmental modification on malaria epidemiology and transmission, and new vector control strategies. For Asian malaria, the research focuses on the mechanisms of heterogeneous malaria transmission in the border area of the Greater Mekong Region and development of integrated malaria control strategies to aid the malaria elimination efforts in the region.
“Wolbachia infections in mosquitoes of Merced County”
Ryan Jacob Torres, BS, Trainee
Ryan Torres is a current public health Ph.D. student at the University of California, Merced. His research interests are in vector-ecology, biological control, population genetics, and infectious disease. Following his graduation, Torres plans on pursuing a post-doctoral research appointment within vector ecology. Ultimately, he hopes to continue public health-relevant research within an academic setting.
Andrea Joyce, PhD, MS, PI, University of California, Merced
Dr. Andrea Joyce is an assistant professor and an entomologist. Her research interests include vector ecology, insect behavior, insect population genetics, biological control and integrated pest management for insects of agricultural and public health importance. Current research includes vector ecology and Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Her vector ecology research focuses on mosquitoes, and includes identification of vector species and strains, understanding the habitat they thrive in (ecology), and investigating factors associated with vector-borne disease.
“Northern California physician assessment of knowledge, attitudes, and practices for Lyme disease in a low-endemic state“
Sharon Ichiko Brummitt, MPH, Trainee
Sharon Ichiko Brummitt is a Ph.D. student in epidemiology at the University of California, Davis. In the short-term, she aims to complete her Ph.D. career at UC Davis with a dissertation topic that may have immediate implications in public health, specifically taking an analytical and serological approach to the understanding of human Lyme disease in California. In the long-term, she hopes to obtain a position (e.g. federal or state level) where she can use her epidemiological knowledge and skills to develop programs or directly impact public health knowledge and practice.
Woutrina Smith, PhD, MPVM, DVM, PI, University of California, Davis
Dr. Smith’s research program uses One Health approaches to investigate the epidemiology and transmission dynamics of zoonotic pathogens locally in California as well as internationally at multiple project sites in Africa and Asia. As a molecular epidemiologist working at the interfaces of humans, animals, and their shared environments, waterborne fecal pathogens as well as milk- and airborne transmitted zoonotic agents are of particular interest when considering individual and population health issues.
“Next-generation-sequencing-based means for mosquito surveillance and detection of mosquito-borne pathogens“
Aurélie Kapusta, PhD, Trainee
Aurélie Kapusta is a bioinformatics scientist at IDbyDNA (80%) who also works for the University of Utah Pediatrics Infectious Disease department (20%). Kapusta’s goals are to improve her skills in bioinformatics and knowledge in infectious diseases diagnosis (with metagenomics). She hopes to keep working at IDbyDNA as a bioinformatics scientist, and keep being involved in research collaborations.