Karen Poh

Karen Poh holding a cockroachI always had an interest in public health and after earning my BS in Public Health and MPH in Environmental Sciences, I was wondering about my next step. I knew I wanted to stay in public health and study zoonotic and vector-borne diseases. Once I heard about the Hamer’s at Texas A&M University through my mentor in my MPH program, I thought the project studying the distribution of West Nile virus (WNV) in Texas was a good fit for me since it provided a nice intersection of public health, geography, and entomology and I officially joined the Department of Entomology and the Hamer Lab in Fall 2014. My dissertation specifically looks at WNV in Texas. WNV is still an important vector-borne disease in the US given its endemic status, however, we still don’t know how, when, and where WNV may appear in Texas. I’m specifically studying how landscape, sociodemographics, and meteorological conditions affect WNV infection in Culex mosquitoes by using historical databases from Dallas and Harris Counties. I am developing predictive models and maps to highlight spatial and temporal risk of WNV in mosquito populations to allow for proactive vector control efforts and to prevent spill-over of WNV to human and animal populations.

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