DegreeMaster of Science in Global Health ’15
I’m from Green Bay, Wisconsin. I went to Notre Dame, where I was a biology major, and came straight here for my master’s.
When I first met with Dr. Pan to discuss ideas for my master’s thesis he mentioned the possibility of working withleishmaniasis, and I jumped at the chance to work with a neglected vector-borne disease. I’ve always enjoyed studying infectious diseases and I was looking for a chance to practice Spanish, so this was a perfect fit.
Leishmaniasis is a neglected tropical disease that’s associated with poverty, as impoverished environments increase exposure to its vector, the sand fly. It results in a skin lesion, but if left untreated the parasite could migrate to the nasal cavity and erode the nose and throat. This is very stigmatizing, and could lead to negative mental health and economic outcomes.
Illegal gold mining is causing drastic habitat change, and we’re not really sure how this change will affect sand fly species in the area. The initial data collected by our project team suggest that greater numbers of sand flies were associated with greater forest coverage. This year’s team is currently in the field collecting sand flies to build on our data.
I wrote my thesis on what we found, and now I’m adapting it for an article in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.
Bass Connections was a really good way to participate in a larger research project that gave me more data to work with, and more flexibility and options. The project influenced my thesis, which in turn affected the type of job I’m qualified for. It’s been very helpful to allow me to develop research skills and work with diverse partners in the field.
My advice for students is to really explore what you can do at Duke. Talk to professors and ask what opportunities they know about. Bass Connections is an example of an amazing experience you can have here.