Science AMA Series: Zika! Malaria! Chikungunya! What do we need to know
about these mosquito-borne diseases and what can be done about them? Ask
Hi Reddit! We are writers for Science News
(https://www.sciencenews.org/), a publication of the Society for Science
and the Public (https://www.societyforscience.org/). With the recent
spread of Zika, there have been concerns about the spread of
mosquito-borne diseases. What can be done? What answers can science
provide us? Together, we have written extensively on Zika, gene drives,
genetically engineered mosquitoes, and general mosquito biology. Ask us
anything! I’m Meghan Rosen, and I’m the general assignment reporter at
Science News. It’s a grab bag beat that I love because I’m always
learning about something new (from disaster robots to lead poisoning to
a new form of carbon that glows in the dark). This year I’ve been
covering the Zika virus outbreak that emerged in Brazil in 2015, and may
be to blame for the country’s recent surge in microcephaly cases. I have
a Ph.D. in molecular biology and biochemistry (with an emphasis in
biotechnology) from UC Davis, and graduated from UC Santa Cruz’s Science
Communication program in 2012.
I’m Tina Saey, the molecular biology writer at Science News. I cover a
broad range of topics from viruses to human evolutionary history, with
occasional forays into penguin tongues and water bear survival tactics.
Basically, if it has DNA I will write about it. But don’t worry, red
blood cells and non-DNA-based extraterrestrial life, I’ve got you
covered, too. One of the hottest topics on my beat has been the
gene-editing tool called CRISPR/Cas9 and its scientific, medical and
ethical implications. Pertinent to this discussion is an application of
CRISPR called gene drives. Scientists hope to eliminate mosquito-borne
diseases and invasive species, but worry about unforeseen consequences
(such as causing the extinction of entire species) of the technology.
Susan Milius, and I write about creatures great and small, and even
photosynthetic, for Science News. I’m aghast at the number of years I
just slapped mosquitoes without even wondering which of several thousand
species, quite diverse in their tastes, I had just smeared on the wall.
(Some are blue. Some hate the outdoors as much as any human couch
potato. Some don’t even drink blood.) Now those distinctions explain why
some major disease-carrying mosquitoes just laugh at our attempts to
control them. It took me a bit of exploring other kinds of journalism to
realize that after double-majoring in biology and English, I could get a
job writing in English about biology. It’s a wonderful life, even with
mosquitoes in it. We’ll be back at 2 pm EST (11 am PST, 7 pm UTC) to
answer your questions, ask us anything!* EDIT: What great questions!
It’s our time to leave, but we’ll be checking in throughout the day to
see if there are any more questions. Thanks for having us!