Who I Am

Extracurricular: Infectious Disease Research and Response Training Program, Fellow; MIP Graduate Student Organization President; Anschutz Family Foundation Pandemic Preparedness, Fellow; Science on Tap, Student Organizer

Phd Major: Microbiology, Immunology & Pathology

A Bit About Me

I am a PhD Candidate in the labs of Rebekah Kading and Nicole Kelp in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology at Colorado State University. In my graduate research, I use a One Health framework to investigate the socio-ecological aspects of emerging infectious diseases. I utilize my expertise in science communication and virology for global public health research applications. Namely, I research Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV), which causes infectious hemmoragic disease and death in mammals, and it transmitts primarly through mosquito bites. These studies occur both in high-containment laboratory settings and in field research sites in Tanzania.  Outside of research, I spend my time browsing thrift stores, planning dinner parties, doing crafts, exploring mountains and steams, and planning trips with my husband.

What I Hope To Do

My research focuses on  interdisciplinary solutions to vector-borne diseases (VBD). The WHO attributes 700,000 deaths annually to VBD, with Sub-Saharan Africa at the highest risk for these diseases. In a multinational, transdisciplinary collaboration, a RVF-vaccine clinical trial is underway in Tanzania. The project includes surveillance of humans, wildlife, livestock, and mosquitoes in vaccine deployment regions. Furthermore, we consider the impacts of ecological factors, like temperature, on RVFV transmission. Community partnerships are used to co-create culturally-informed interventions, and to characterize RVFV knowledge and risk perceptions in local communities. Long term results of this work include data-driven outbreak prediction to decrease the burden on human and animal health, support local economies, and slow the projected global dissemination of RVFV. The emphasis on community-engaged research is foundational for the acceptance, sustainability, and success of public health interventions. This integration of biological and social sciences is my research niche and my passion. I seek to apply this skillset in a global public health career after graduation.

My Personal Thanks

When I called my mom and told her that I was going to do field research in Tanzania, she said, “Your dream is coming true! You’ve wanted to do this since you were 5 years old.” Science that elicits global change and a deep reverance and appreciation for the diverse cultures and communities of East Africa have been on my heart as long as I can remember. This collaborative research project has brought together international partners to develop culturally-relevant and community-engaged interventions to reduce the disease burden in endemic regions of Africa, and to reduce the likelihood of global dispersal of RVFV. The Africa Center’s support is eliciting tangible results, both through the fullfillemnt of my lifelong dream and by enabling this interdisciplary research team to mitigate the global burden of emerging infectious diseases.