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AAAS AMA: Hi, we’re Maria Elena Bottazzi, Marcia Castro, Kacey Ernst, and Anthony Wilson and we study vector-borne diseases. Ask us anything!
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  • r/Science AMAs

Corresponding Author:aaas-ama@thewinnower.com

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r/Science AMAs
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Vector-borne diseases – infectious diseases that are carried between humans or from animals to humans by organisms such as mosquitoes and ticks – infect over 1 billion people and cause more than 1 million deaths every year (World Health Organization, http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs387/en/). What makes someone susceptible to vector-borne disease? What do globalization, climate change, and human behavior have to do with where these diseases are found? What vaccines are in development? We’re a diverse group of infectious disease researchers – ask us anything! Maria Elena Bottazzi, Associate Dean, National School of Tropical Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine. I lead the research, education and administration efforts of my school, as a Professor of Pediatric Tropical Medicine and the Deputy Director for the Sabin Vaccine Institute and Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development. An internationally-recognized scientist with more than 16 years of experience in translational immunoparasitology research and vaccine development for neglected tropical diseases, my major interest lies in the role of vaccines as control tools integrated into international public and global health programs and initiatives. I earned her PhD in 1995 from the University of Florida. Marcia Castro, Associate Professor of Demography, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.My research focuses on infectious diseases (particularly mosquito borne), environmental change and health, environmental management for vector control, spatial patterns of disease transmission, and infant & child mortality. More specifically, I focus on the development and use of multidisciplinary approaches, combining data from different sources, to identify the determinants of disease transmission in different ecological settings, providing evidence for the improvement of current control policies, as well as the development of new ones. I earned my PhD in Demography from Princeton University in 2002. Anthony Wilson, Integrative Entomology Group Leader, The Pirbright Institute. I lead the Integrative Entomology group at The Pirbright Institute in the UK, studying the ability of insects (particularly mosquitoes) and ticks to transmit viruses and how this is affected by the environment. I have contributed opinions as an expert on vector-borne disease emergence for the European Food Safety Authority and the Global Strategic Alliances for the Coordination of Research on the Major Infectious Diseases of Animals and Zoonoses (STAR-IDAZ); I’m a member of the MACSUR European network on the impacts of climate change on food production via disease ecology; and I’m a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society. Additionally, I am a core member of Pirbright’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committee, a site union representative and sits on the national panel for the Athena SWAN Charter awards, which recognize employer commitments to gender equality. I earned my PhD from the University of Oxford in 2008. Kacey Ernst, Associate Professor of Epidemiology, University of Arizona College of Public Health. My primary research interests are in determining how human-environment interactions alter risk of vector-borne disease transmission. I focus specifically on questions surrounding the emergence of Aedes-borne viruses such as dengue and Zika in the U.S.-Mexico border region and the development and uptake of sustainable control strategies for malaria in western Kenya. Recently, I partnered with the Centers for Disease Control to develop Kidenga, a community-based surveillance mobile application that is intended to educate communities and provide early warning of pathogen emergence. I have presented to the public in a wide range of forums on her research and the impact of climate change on human health, and earned my PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Michigan in 2006. [edit] Okay guys, I’m afraid we’re heading off now. Thank you very much for joining us, and hope we were able to give you some useful answers!