REU Student discovers a new mosquito population behind Honolulu
Rachelle Tom, a native Hawaiian from Pālolo, completed an REU internship in the lab. She surveyed the mosquito community in the Makīkī-Mānoa watershed with a variety of traps. During her field work, she discovered a breeding population of Aedes japonicus in the upper elevations of the watershed. This places a globally invasive mosquito vector of public health importance in the mountains behind Honolulu, Hawai‘i's largest city. Her work highlights the capacity of these mosquitoes to spread to new environments and underscores the necessity for more active mosquito surveillance in Hawai‘i.
Rachelle will start as a graduate student in NREM at UH-Mānoa soon. Way to go, Rachelle!
Along with Michael Hadfield, Matt is coordinating our NSF-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program in Environmental Biology. Our 2017 cohort consists of 12 Native Hawaiian and Micronesian undergraduate students from O‘ahu, Saipan, Guam, Palau, Pohnpei, and the Marshall Islands. These students are now actively pursuing a diversity of research topics across several different units at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, including the Pacific Biosciences Research Center, the Hawai‘i Institute for Marine Biology, the Department of Biology, and the Department of Botany.
Here is the link to a summary report of the Mosquitoes in Hawai‘i Workshop convened in September 2016 in Volcano, Hawai‘i. Matt participated in this event along with several other national and international experts on mosquito biology and mosquito-borne infectious disease. The conference was supported and funded by Hawai‘i County and the Hawai‘i Exemplary State Foundation. The ultimate goals of this effort are highly ambitious, but critical for the conservation of native Hawaiian avifauna and the mitigation of important public health threats to the State of Hawai‘i.
Dr. Amber Wright (center) and research technician Arielle Crews process a small Asian mongoose in conjunction with Dr. Wright's Hawaii Community Foundation funded study on Leptospirosis transmission ecology in Mānoa.
Dr. Amber Wright (UHM Biology), Dr. Robert Cowie (UHM PBRC), and Matt are launching a new line of research in Hawai‘i on the transmission ecology of zoonotic pathogens that utilize small mammals as reservoir hosts. This line of research will include interrogating the patterns of multiparasitism in Rattus hosts and understanding how interactions between coinfecting pathogens within hosts may scale to influence transmission between hosts. In addition, other related projects will investigate host specificity and transmission dynamics among strains of Leptospira across rats, mice, mongoose, and other mammals, as well as the spatiotemporal variation in the risk of zoonoses associated with small mammal reservoirs in Hawai‘i. Recently, Amber, Matt, researcher Arielle Crews, and UH veterinarian Mike Wong conducted the field sampling protocol on some mongooses that we caught around Mānoa Stream.
Aloha! The first wave of publications (6 in all) from the lab are out. These include a study that links red imported fire ants to tick-borne disease, several papers on the avian malaria system including the discovery of a new clade at the potential rank of genus in North American cranes, and a dispersal study of mosquito vectors in a suburban setting. Check them out in the publication section, or email Matt for reprints!
Aloha! Matt is now a cooperating faculty member of the entomology graduate program within CTARH at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. This great news is timely as the lab has numerous pending and in prep grant applications that deal with mosquito vector biology and the mitigation of mosquito-borne infectious disease transmission. Students interested in questions associated with the insect microbiota, host-parasite interactions in insect systems, medical entomology, and mosquito biology should contact Matt to inquire about joining the lab and review the requirements to enter the M.S. or Ph.D. program in entomology.
The Medeiros lab in the Pacific Biosciences Research Center at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa is now open! Our research will focus on the ecology and evolutionary biology of infectious disease using the biological systems of Hawai‘i. Beyond advancing science directly, our lab aims to facilitate the access of under-represented native Hawaiian students to STEM fields. We achieve this by adopting culturing informed methods of conducting science. In addition, much of our research has direct implications toward developing sustainable practices that mitigate the risk of infectious disease for human and wildlife populations in Hawai‘i nei, and in parallel, work to preserve Hawai‘i’s native biodiversity, environment, cultural practices and livelihoods. We are deeply committed to public engagement, and strive to bridge gaps between the scientific community and the public through citizen science campaigns. If you share our goals, please consider joining or collaborating with us.