Faculty and graduate students with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology--and others associated with an ENT/NEM lab--got together for a retreat, held Friday, Oct. 14 through Sunday, Oct. 16 at Sagehen Creek Field Station in Truckee.
Doctoral candidate (and photographer) Sandy Olkowski shared some of her photos of the activities, including insect collecting and dinner preparation. She also took a photo of deer at the campsite.
The participants got to know one another and also enjoyed the natural areas around the field station.
Sagehen Creek Field Station in Truckee is approximately 2 hours from Davis. It also the site of Professor Phil Ward's popular "Bug Boot Camp."
They're all heavily involved in mosquito research and each won a Bill Hazeltine Student Research Award, presented annually by the Hazeltine family.
And they all have stories to tell.
Stephanie Kurniawan is working on her master's degree, studying with major professors Ed Lewis and Shirley Luckhart. “Though I have lived in California my entire life, I often visited relatives in Indonesia,” she said. “During one trip when I was in middle school, I got dengue and had to be hospitalized for several days. No one in America knew about this disease, not even my pediatrician. This made me interested in vector-borne diseases and mosquitoes.”
Kurniawan went on to receive her degree in animal biology with a minor in medical and veterinary entomology at UC Davis.
“I am adapting methods for estimating age structure of Anopheles mosquito populations using the captive cohort method developed by Dr. James Carey. It is a potentially inexpensive and practical alternative for real-time surveillance of mosquito populations. I currently am testing this method on local populations of Anopheles freeborni from Sutter and Butte County rice fields.”
Sandy Olkowski is working on her doctorate in entomology, studying with medical entomologist Thomas Scott, emeritus professor of entomology.
“While working for a pediatrician when I was living in Thailand, I became aware of the significant disease burden that dengue places on populations in developing countries,” Olkowski said. “I returned to the United States with the goal of doing whatever I could to alleviate that burden, and subsequently applied to UC Davis because of the ground-breaking dengue research of Thomas Scott. I conducted research for my senior honors thesis in the Scott lab while completing a bachelor's degree in economics, with a focus on international development. I then continued on into a PhD in Entomology, with a designated emphasis in biology of vector-borne diseases. I am entering the 4th year of my PhD. I recently returned from 10 months of fieldwork in Iquitos, Peru.”
“My research is focused on dengue disease surveillance,” Olkowski said. “I am interested in identifying and quantifying ways that human behavior affects surveillance data. Rapid detection of increases in dengue cases is very important for public health officials, so they can implement vector control in a timely manner, but delays in treatment seeking by patients and clinical diagnosis by physicians may be impeding that process. I hope that the results of my research can be directly applied. Eventually, I would like to be able to sit down with public health officials and discuss evidence-based improvements to dengue surveillance.”
Maribel "Mimi" Portilla
Maribel "Mimi" Portilla has her master's degree in public health. “As many scientists, I am a very curious person, intrigued by multifaceted questions about the world around me,” Portilla said. “ As an undergraduate at Santa Clara University, I quickly found my calling to the sciences, and I double-majored in Biology, with an emphasis in ecology and evolution, and combined health sciences. However, I often found myself wondering how I could take my new knowledge and apply it in a way that would be beneficial to others. Completing a minor in sociology at SCU became pivotal in my search for a graduate program. I found that public health incorporated my love for biology and my growing interest in social issues. At UC Berkeley School of Public Health, I was able to study health and disease within a larger context, and how to consider the biology and the social determinants of disease."
"After completing my master's in public health with an emphasis in infectious diseases and vaccinology, I realized I really missed the research experiences I had as an undergraduate, and so I looked for a way to bridge my new-found passion for Public Health and basic science research. This led me to UC Davis, where I am now pursuing a Ph.D in medical entomology. At UC Davis I learned about One Health, which states that the health of people, the environment, and animals is closely intertwined, and a seamless interaction between disciplines is critical for the health of all. Medical entomology is inherently a prefect field in which to ask questions about how the interactions between humans and animals impact health."
"Within One Health theory, I am particularly interested in how people manipulate the environment in ways that change the risk of disease by arthropod vectors, such as mosquitoes," Portilla said. "Although environmental manipulation is a classic mosquito control technique, indirect effects of managing other concerns, such as invasive weeds, is not well understood. I am focusing on how the management practices of the invasive exotic weeds, Brazilian waterweed (Egeria densa) and water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta impact mosquitoes and their habitat. My goal is to better understand the ecology of these management practices in order to inform and create better techniques to reduce both mosquito and weed problems.”
“Due to my diverse interests and skill set, I am very open about my career choices. I have extensive teaching experience, and would love to be a professor with both teaching and research opportunities. However, there are many work opportunities beyond academia. My research is introducing me to many government organizations, such as Vector Control districts, who are doing important work and research to keep people safe and healthy. I hope to continue developing a strong research skill set while at UC Davis, and find a career path which takes advantage of my diverse abilities and love for One Health and Public Health. “
William Emery Hazeltine II
William Emery Hazeltine II (1926-1994), for whom the Bill Hazeltine Student Research Award is named, worked tirelessly in mosquito research. He managed the Butte County Mosquito Abatement District, Oroville, from 1966 to 1992. He was an ardent supporter of the judicious use of public health pesticides to protect public health.
Hazeltine studied entomology in the UC Berkeley graduate program, 1950-53, and received his doctorate in entomology from Purdue University in 1962.
He managed the Lake County Mosquito Abatement District from 1961-64 and the Butte County Mosquito Abatement District from 1966-1992. He continued work on related projects until his death in 1994.
Two of his sons actively support the memorial fund: Craig of Scottsdale and Lee of Woodland. A third son, Jeff of Los Angeles, supported the memorial award until his death in March 2013.
If a patient is the sole wage earner in the family, lost wages can amount to a third of the monthly household income.
Olkowski recently gave a presentation on the "Economic Impact of Work Absenteeism Due to Dengue Fever in Iquitos, Peru” at the fifth annual American Society of Tropical Medicine Hygiene/Peru meeting.
“Over a quarter of the laboratory-confirmed patients fell significantly below Peru's minimum monthly wage,” Olkowski said. “In the wage group with the highest rate of dengue, lost wages due to dengue illness represented more than 25 to 30 percent of their monthly income. It's also important to note that we included only wage-earners, whereas the majority of women work in the home and are not earning a wage, so these are one-income households.”
“In this project, Dr. Vilcarromero and I quantified one aspect of the 'hidden economic burden' of dengue in Iquitos,” she said. “A lot of attention is being given to the economic impact of hospitalized dengue cases but that's not the full story. Our research demonstrates that even when dengue is technically a ‘mild' illness, the people who live with it are suffering not only physically but economically.”
“For this study, we looked at how lost work days due to non-severe dengue affects people,” Olkowski said, explaining that in Iquitos, most families have a single wage earner and receive little or no paid sick leave. “Thus, taking a sick day can mean less support for their families.”
“We considered only patients who went to a clinic but were not hospitalized and who were laboratory confirmed for dengue serotype 4,” she said. “That is generally considered to cause mild, ambulatory illness so that would probably not be taken too seriously from an economic impact standpoint.”
This was her third trip to Iquitos. On each of the first two trips, she did research for about two months, and has now been in Iquitos for seven months.
Olkowski, who is seeking her doctorate in entomology with a major interest in medical entomology and public health, expects to graduate in the summer of 2016. She holds a bachelor's degree in economics from UC Davis.
The world-class Thomas Scott lab studies the dengue virus, which is transmitted by Aedes aegypti, a daytime-biting mosquito. The dengue virus has been spreading globally over the last four decades, including parts of United States. More than half of the world's population is now at risk of infection. The disease infects 400 million people each year.
Scott, distinguished professor of entomology and director of the Mosquito Research Program, is the principal investigator of two grants totaling nearly $10 million to study the mosquito-borne, viral illness.
The grants, awarded in 2014, include $7.5 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and $2.2 million from Notre Dame University.
Amy Morrison of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, co-leads the projects in Iquitos, where she directs the long-running UC Davis epidemiological field research program in collaboration with NAMRU-6. Other UC Davis researchers involved in the grants are Steven Stoddard, Robert C. Reiner, T. Alex Perkins, Veronica Armijos, Jody Simpson and Christopher Barker and Olkowski.
The $2.2 million grant, “Spatial Repellants for Control of Vector-borne Disease,” from Notre Dame University, is the first-ever project aimed at dengue prevention. It focuses on studying the potential for spatial insect repellants to reduce exposure to dengue virus in people's homes.
The NIH grant, “Quantifying Heterogeneities in Dengue Virus Transmission Dynamics,” aims to quantify how much people, with different degrees of illness, vary in their contribution to virus transmission and spread.
Nov. 5, 2012
The awards went to Jenny Carlson, avian malaria research, and Sandra "Sandy" Olkowski and Kelly Liebman, dengue research. Hazeltine's three sons, Craig of Scottsdale, Ariz; Jeff of Los Angeles; and Lee of Woodland recently visited the UC Davis campus to congratulate the winners and learn more about their research.
Carlson studies avian malaria with UC Davis associate professor/medical entomologist Anthony “Anton” Cornel, headquartered at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Parlier. Olkowski studies dengue with major professor/medical entomologist Thomas Scott. Liebman, also a graduate student of Thomas Scott's, now has her doctorate in entomology and is working at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga.
Carlson received $2000; Olkowski, $1000' and Liebman, $580.
Carlson's research, titled “Culicine Vectorial Capacity and Its Implications for Transmission of Avian Malaria in Western United States,” involves host-feeding preferences, vector abundance and vectorial competence.
Carlson described malaria as “one of the most devastating diseases to humans” but it “also affects a wide range of other mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds.”
Carlson, who received a Hazeltine Memorial Research Fellowship in 2010 and 2011, earned her bachelor of science degree in zoology from Colorado State University, Fort Collins, and her master's degree biology from San Francisco State University.
Olkowski's proposal is titled Association Between Preexisting DENV Immunity and Severe Disease Due to DENV-2 Infection in Iquitos, Peru.”
“Dengue fever is the most prevalent mosquito-borne viral disease in the world, with an estimated 50 to 100 million cases each year and 2.6 billion people at risk,“ Olkowski said. Illness is caused by infection with any of the four distinct viral serotypes (DENV-1, 2, 3 and 4).
“Severe severe disease was largely absent until introduction of a novel genotype of DENV-2 in 2010-11,” Olkowski said. Her research involves identifying “cohort participants who were infected with DENV-2 during the outbreak.”
“I will then use statistical models to evaluate the relationship between their serological history—by number of infections and serotype sequence—and clinical outcomes. Of particular interest are severe outcomes in persons with a single type of prior antibody, to determine if there was a spike in severity with second infection, as predicted by dengue epidemiology theory.”
Olkowski, who is seeking her doctorate in entomology with a major interest in medical entomology and public health, received a President's Undergraduate Fellowship in May 2011.
Liebman joined the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta following her exit seminar on “Implications of Heterogeneities in Mosquito and Human Populations on Dengue Virus Transmission in Iquitos, Peru.” She lived in Iquitos for a year while doing her research.
“Over the past three decades, dengue virus (DENV) as emerged as one of the most important arthropod-borne viral infections of humans, causing as many as 50 million infections worldwide each year,” Liebman wrote in her application. “The mosquito vector of DENV, Aedes aegypti, is exceedingly efficient because it feeds frequently and almost exclusively on humans.”
“An improved understanding of the distribution of the bites among people in Iquitos will allow me to estimate differential risk of infection based on exposure to mosquito bites and significantly improve understanding of local DENV transmission dynamics,” she wrote.
Liebman, who received Hazeltine Memorial Fellowship Awards in 2009 and 2011, obtained her her master's degree in public health from Yale University and her bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
The Hazeltine Memorial Fellowship Awards memorialize William “Bill” Hazeltine (1926-1994), who managed the Lake County Mosquito Abatement District from 1961-64 and the Butte County Mosquito Abatement District from 1966-1992. He was an ardent supporter of the judicious use of public health pesticides to protect public health. He continued work on related projects until his death in 1994.
Hazeltine studied entomology in the UC Berkeley graduate program from 1950-53, and received his doctorate in entomology from Purdue University in 1962.
He maintained close ties with UC Davis entomologists. UC Davis medical entomologist Bruce Eldridge eulogized him at the 2005 American Mosquito Control Association conference “as a man who made a difference.” His talk, illustrated with photos, was published in the 2006 edition of the Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association. (See PDF)
"He was a medical entomologist who had a varied career in the field of mosquito biology and control, but he will forever be remembered as a man who fought in the trenches of the pesticide controversy from 1960 until the end of his life, and who made the safe and efficient use of pesticides in public health a personal crusade," Eldridge said.
Eldridge noted that Hazeltine "was an advocate for the use of mosquito control to protect people from mosquitoes and the disease agents they transmit, and he believed chemical control to be a necessary part of the means to accomplish this. He also considered himself an environmentalist, and billed himself as such on his business cards and on his signature block. He had a vast knowledge of pesticides and pesticide legislation, and a strong belief in the scientific basis for public policy issues related to the safe and effective use of pesticides. Because the federal Endangered Species Act influenced mosquito control, he became an authority on this as well."
Eldridge described him as "an effective manager and leader at Butte County. Those who took the trouble to get to know him developed a strong allegiance to him. Most appreciated his absolute honesty and fairness. Not only was Bill honest to a fault, he expected it of people who work for him as well."
Hazeltine, born Sept. 4, 1926 in San Jose, was the youngest of six children born to Karl Snyder Hazeltine and Rachel Josephine Crawford Hazeltine. Karl, a graduate of the University of California, served on the faculty of San Jose State University, where he taught agricultural and natural science. Rachel, a graduate of San Jose State, was a teacher.
2011: Brittany Nelms Mills, Kelly Liebman and Jenny Carlson (see story)
2010: Tara Thiemann and Jenny Carlson (see story)
2009: Kelly Liebman and Wei Xu (See story)
2008: Ashley Horton and Tara Thiemann (See story)
2007: Lisa Reimer and Jacklyn Wong (See story)
2006: Christopher Barker and Tania Morgan (See story)
2005: Nicole Mans
2004: Sharon Minnick
2003: Hannah Burrack
2002: Holly Ganz and Andradi Villalobos
2001: Laura Goddard and Linda Styer
--Kathy Keatley Garvey
UC Davis Department of Entomology