Medical Entomology Research
Vector-borne diseases account for approximately 17% of the global burden of infectious diseases, with an overwhelming majority of this burden resulting from mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, and West Nile Virus. The risk of human exposure to mosquito-borne diseases is quite variable in space and time and is heavily influenced by environmental disturbances resulting from human activities such as agricultural intensification, deforestation, urbanization, introduction of exotic species, and encroachment into wild areas. Our research aims at understanding the impact of human-induced environmental disturbances on ecology of vector mosquitoes and potential public health implications. We study the impacts of human land-use patterns on the transmission dynamics of a variety of mosquito-borne diseases including malaria, and WNV, dengue and La Crosse viruses (LACV).
Students and researchers at the Medical Entomology lab address a wide range of research questions, all with a common theme of gaining a better understanding of how anthropogenic disturbances affect the transmission dynamics of mosquito-borne diseases. Current research projects are addressing how land use patterns affect the risk of malaria and WNV transmission; how widespread use of pesticides in agriculture affects resource abundance and diversity (microbial abundance and diversity) in the larval habitats; and how these pesticides affect epidemiologically relevant mosquito traits like survival, body size, fecundity, immunity, vector competence, and pathogen extrinsic incubation period; and how interaction of natural and anthropogenic stressors affect the components of vectorial capacity. We are also interested in understanding the biology of invasive mosquitoes and their potential direct and indirect effects on human health. Collectively, these studies will provide important insights into how to prevent a negative feedback between human-induced disturbances and the burden of vector-borne diseases.