Congratulations to six students in the Department of Entomology as they completed the Master of Vector-Borne Disease Management Certification course in Houston.
Graduate students Samantha Hays, Casey Flint, Jennie Rhinesmith-Carranza, Dongmin Kim, and Brittny Jones, and undergraduate student Cierra Briggs, a researcher for Dr. Gabe Hamer Lab, were the recipients of the certification course during the three-day-long course was held in Houston in December of 2018. The course’s focus was to help educate people on what vector-borne diseases are and how to control the insects that carry them.
The students were trained on several topics including vector biology and ecology, the epidemiology of vector-borne diseases and insecticide resistance monitoring, prevention strategies and communication tools for developing programs. The course also trained participants on how to integrate effective vector/pathogen surveillance and assessment with various vector control management programs to protect people and animals from the threat of vector-borne diseases.
Hays wants to use what she has learned into her future career of conducting research on vector-borne disease systems and to help educate scientists and the general public on how to properly manage arthropods and vector-borne diseases.
“The course was extremely beneficial to all the attendees from different careers and backgrounds,” she said. “To me two of the most memorable parts of the course included the epidemiology of vector-borne diseases and insecticide resistance monitoring.”
Hays added that the course was a great way to learn new ideas, as well as to review what she has learned.
“It was a great refresher of information I have learned in entomology courses here at Texas A&M University and gave me the chance to learn new information benefiting my future in working with vector-borne disease systems,” she said. “In my opinion, Dr. Swiger and collaborators are doing a phenomenal job engaging people from different career backgrounds in becoming masters of vector-borne disease management with this certification course. Overall, I would recommend anyone to attend this course.”
Flint said the course was a great way to learn new techniques and to apply what she had learned.
“As students, we are more focused on the biology and anatomy of insects, as well as modes of action for pesticides. Rarely do we see the applied side, where applicators have to know where to place insecticides, which ones to use, how to stagger and alternate certain pesticides, etc,” she said. “This workshop joined both sides of vector management, taught both sides, and allowed participants to share their experiences with one another and build connections all over the state.”
Jones also enjoyed the class and said it was a great learning experience.
“The course overall was quite informative and entertaining. It was a wonderful experience meeting other people in the industry, or other students,” she said. “The instructors made the material exciting, and were kind enough to give us extra resources if we wanted to learn more about a topic. I felt more informed about mosquitoes compared to my limited knowledge in the past after taking this course.”
Jones also said she plans on using what she had learned during the course to help her in her career.
“I believe that biological control is an important concept of safety regulations in businesses and the products they are producing,” Jones said. “With this knowledge, I can help implement the proper protocols when dealing with infestations and how to identify problems before they expand to costly issues.”
“I really enjoyed the Certification course,” Kim said. “Each seminar presented by special guests on particular subjects was very informative and covered ranging from vector biology to management.”
Rhinesmith-Carranza said it has helped her to use what she has learned during both her graduate and undergraduate classes.
“The workshop was great! The vector course helped continue to broaden my scope, building off of concepts I learned in Dr. Teel’s acarology course and Dr. Brundage’s medical entomology course,” Rhinesmith-Carranza said. “The vector certification course really equips you with knowledge and skills to put in your toolkit as a practicing entomologist; there was good foundational knowledge presented in addition to the practical applications of that knowledge for assisting in the control of arthropod vectors.”