Winokur who enrolled in the entomology doctoral program in 2016 with a designated emphasis in the biology of vector-borne diseases, studies with major advisor Christopher Barker, associate professor, Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, School of Veterinary Medicine.
As a fellow, she will receive a stipend of $3000. Traditionally, approximately 12 fellows annually are selected to participate in the yearlong program, launched in 1992.
The PFTF program is designed to prepare UC Davis doctoral students and postdoctoral scholars “for an increasingly competitive marketplace and a rapidly changing university environment,” according to PFTF co-directors Ellen Hartigan-O'Connor, acting associate dean of UC Davis Graduate Studies, and Teresa Dillinger, academic administrator.
During the year, the fellows will receive formal training-in-teaching methods and course design; participate in a seminar course on ethics and professionalism, and meet regularly for roundtable panel discussions to promote their professional development, intellectual growth and leadership skills, the directors said.
The fellows will work on projects of their own design to enhance their graduate or postdoctoral experience and professional development of their colleagues. They summarize their projects in end-of-the-year reports. (See 2019-2020 fellows.)
Winokur titled her successful proposal, “Addressing Financial Barriers to Participation in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).”
“Graduate students perform many roles as researchers, mentors, educators, communicators, service leaders, and humans,” wrote Winokur, who is president of the UC Davis Entomology Graduate Student Association. “Financial insecurity affects students' abilities to perform these roles well, and provides a leg up to students with financial support beyond a graduate student stipend. We know that diversity is important in academia; cultivating talent from folks across the social spectrum leads to innovative and appropriate solutions.”
“Addressing financial barriers to participation in STEM graduate programs will lead to more diverse and inclusive programs,” she wrote. “Further, financial insecurity affects those who enters graduate school in the first place; research experience is often required to be considered for acceptance into graduate school, which unfortunately is often offered in the form of unpaid research internships. This can filter out low-income students early, making academia even more elite than it already is.”
Winokur will collaborate with existing resources on campus to set up a series of workshops to address the issues, focusing on three points: (1) creative ways to fund your research (2) how to support your research mentees—why unpaid labor filters low income and other disadvantaged students, and (3) making your teaching cheaper—how to make education more accessible for low-income and other disadvantaged students.
“I've been interested in applying to the Professors for the Future program for a couple years,” she said. “This year, I feel that I am at a good point in my graduate career to develop my skills through the PFTF coursework and to contribute to the graduate student community through a PFTF project.”
Since 2016, the UC Davis doctoral student has developed her teaching, mentoring, course development, and leadership skills through various courses and programs, “which has led to a basic understanding of my teaching philosophy and pedagogy.” She aims to develop her skills to “further align with my core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the classroom and laboratory.”
Olivia grew up in Laguna Niguel, Calif. where she focused on science at the Dana Hills High School Health and Medical Occupations Academy. She holds a bachelor's degree, 2015, from Cornell University, where she majored in interdisciplinary studies, focusing on the environmental effects on human health. While at Cornell, she worked as an intern for the National Institutes of Health, working on climate change initiatives for the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the Fogarty International Center.
Winokur is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. She is a two-time recipient of the Bill Hazeltine Memorial Research Award, given annually to an outstanding UC Davis graduate student studying vector-borne diseases.
Winokur, who researches Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, is the co-author of research published in several journals, including PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. Her first first-author paper, “Impact of Temperature on the Extrinsic Incubation Period of Zika Virus in Aedes aegypti” was just published in March.
Since 2017, she has served as a volunteer with the California Department of Public Health's Vector-Borne Disease Section, assisting with hantavirus and plague surveillance by rodent trapping and testing.
Winokur mentors undergraduate students in the UC Davis Research Scholars Program in Insect Biology (RSPIB), founded and directed by faculty members Jay Rosenheim, Joanna Chiu and Louie Yang, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Active in STEM projects, Winokur co-founded GOALS (Girls' Outdoor Adventure in Leadership and Science) in 2017, a program that develops and runs free two-week summer science programs for high school girls and gender expansive youth from backgrounds underrepresented in STEM fields. The girls learn science, outdoor skills and leadership hands-on while backpacking in Sequoia National Park.
In fact, it was her childhood curiosity about a yellow fever vaccination that sparked her interest in mosquitoes.
In her youth, Olivia traveled with her parents and brothers to “off-the-beaten-path” locations. “So I was exposed to vector-borne disease awareness from a young age,” she recalled. “When I was 8 years old, I remember getting the yellow fever vaccination and being curious about why I had to get it for a trip to Southern Africa. I think that was my defining moment when I learned mosquitoes are more than just annoying. Since then, I've slept under many mosquito nets and am no stranger to mosquito bites.”
“I didn't think much about making a career out of those 'skeeters, though. I attended Cornell University as undergraduate, where I studied global public health from multiple perspectives. It wasn't until I became a research assistant in Dr. Laura Harrington's lab that I became fascinated with mosquito biology and decided to pursue a career in medical entomology.”
Winokur, who received her bachelor's degree in 2015 from Cornell University, majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies and focusing on the environmental effects on human health, enrolled in the UC Davis graduate program in 2016 as a Ph.D entomology student with a designated emphasis in the biology of vector-borne diseases.
She studies with major professor and UC Davis alumnus Christopher Barker, associate professor and associate researcher in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, School of Veterinary Medicine, who doubles as a graduate student advisor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Earlier this year, Winokur received a three-year National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. A 2017 Bill Hazeltine Memorial Award also helps fund her research.
A typical day in the lab: “My days are usually a bit all over the place--I typically spend some time in the BSL-3 (Biosafety Level 3) either collecting samples from infected mosquitoes or processing previously collected samples, some time back in the lab analyzing data and writing, and I'm still taking classes so a few days a week I spend the afternoon on the main campus.”
Born in Long Beach, Calif., Olivia grew up in Laguna Niguel, Calif., where she focused on science as a part of the Dana Hills High School Health and Medical Occupations Academy. Olivia also played basketball at Dana Hills and helped the team win its first league title.
What drew her to UC Davis? “I grew up in California so I was familiar with UC Davis from a young age. I actually applied to UC Davis as an undergraduate, but decided to try life on the East Coast instead and attended Cornell University. While at Cornell, I learned a lot about UC Davis as most of my professors had spent some time at UC Davis during their academic tenure, and a lot of the research I was reading was coming out of UC Davis. I was excited to come back to the West Coast for graduate school so UC Davis seemed like an obvious choice!”
While at Cornell, she interned at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2014, when advised by John Balbus of National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), and Joshua Rosenthal, Fogarty International Center, where she coordinated and wrote an interagency proposal for climate change mitigation in middle and low-income countries under the United Nations. "I also helped develop a global clean cook stove implementation framework to advise NIH initiatives,” she said.
Winokur is a co-author of “The Impact of Temperature and Body-Size on Flight Tone Variation in the Mosquito Vector Aedes aegypti (Diptera: Culicidae): Implications for Acoustic Lures," published in April 2017, in the Journal of Medical Entomology. Several other manuscripts are accepted or in preparation.
She has given presentations at the Mosquito and Vector Control Association of California and the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.
Dedicated to helping high school girls transition into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers, Winokur is a founding board member and publicity co-chair of GOALS (Girls' Outdoor Adventure in Leadership and Science). The organization seeks “to cultivate and embolden the next generation of STEM leaders through a free, immersive, field-based summer science program for high school girls.”
“GOALS is for high school girls, inclusive of cis, trans, and gender nonbinary youth who identify with girlhood, to learn science hands-on while backpacking through the wilderness,” Winokur related. “I have worked with an incredible team of UC Davis affiliates to create GOALS to increase opportunities for high school students who identify with girlhood from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in STEM. Our first trip is happening this summer!” This year's program takes place July 21 to Aug. 5.
Winokur is also a part of the Letters to a Pre-Scientist program “so I get to be a pen-pal to an elementary school student to talk about science!” In addition, she serves as the treasurer of the UC Davis Entomology Graduate Student Association.
Delighted to return to California after being on the East Coast, Winokur spends her leisure time outdoors hiking and backpacking “and exploring the beautiful places near Davis like the Lake Tahoe area and Yosemite. I taught backpacking and wilderness survival skills for Cornell Outdoor Education during college. Additionally, I'm a trivia nerd so I watch a lot of Jeopardy! and play pub trivia with my entomology colleagues weekly. I also enjoy drawing, reading, playing board games, and doing jigsaw puzzles. When I get the chance I enjoy traveling as well--I just returned from Belize and I'll be in Denmark in July!”
After finishing her Ph.D., Winokur plans to remain in academia, but “I'm unsure exactly what that will look like! I really enjoy research, teaching, and mentoring so I'd like to have a career where I can do all of these. I also plan to have a career where I can conduct translational research with broad global health implications, engage non-scientists, create tools to help decision makers mitigate vector-borne disease burden worldwide, and encourage interest and diversity in STEM.”
The event will take place in MU II (second floor) and is free and open to the public.
It's being held "to increase awareness among the general public about malaria, one of the world's oldest and deadliest diseases, as well as vector-borne problems at home in California," said medical entomologist Gregory Lanzaro, professor in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.
Malaria "is a leading cause of death and disease in many developing countries, where young children and pregnant women are the groups most affected," the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out, citing these figures from the World Health Organization's World Malaria Report 2013 and the Global Malaria Action Plan:
- 3.4 billion people (half the world's population) live in areas at risk of malaria transmission in 106 countries and territories
- In 2012, malaria caused an estimated 207 million clinical episodes, and 627,000 deaths. An estimated 91% of deaths in 2010 were in the African Region.
The most vulnerable groups, CDC says, are young children, who have not yet developed partial immunity to malaria; pregnant woman, whose immunity is decreased by pregnancy, especially during the first and second pregnancies; and travelers or migrants coming from areas with little or no malaria transmission, who lack immunity.
The schedule for the UC Davis Malaria Awareness Day:
- 10 to 10:30 am.: Coffee/social/posters
- 10:30 to 10:50: "General Malaria Biology" by medical entomologist Gregory Lanzaro, professor, Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.
- 10:50 to 11:20: Conducting Field Research in Rural Africa" by medical entomologist Anthony Cornel, associate professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and based at the UC Kearney Agriculture and Research Center, Parlier
- 11:10 to 11:30: "Malaria Parasites in the Mosquito" by molecular biologist Shirley Luckhart, professor, UC Davis Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology and an adjunct professor in the Department of Entomology and Nematology
- 11:30 to 11:50: "Mosquito-Borne Viral Diseases" by medical entomologist Chris Barker, assistant adjunct professor and assistant research scientist, UC Davis Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology
- 11:50 to 12:10: "Disease Transmission by Non-Mosquito Vectors" by epidemiologist/veterinarian and disease ecologist Janet Foley, professor, UC Davis Department of Medicine and Epidemiology
- 12:10 to 1:30: A free lunch will be provided, but reservations must be made by April 21 to Youki Kevin Yamasaki at firstname.lastname@example.org.