Wolbachia for the Birds: Novel Vector Control Methods to Suppress Mosquitoes and Reduce Mosquito-Borne Avian Disease in Hawai’i

Tuesday, January 28, 2020 - 3:00pm

Join us for a presentation by Dr. Katherine McClure, a disease ecologist interested in applying quantitative methods to better understand and control infectious diseases, entitled "Wolbachia for the Birds: Novel Vector Control Methods to Suppress Mosquitoes and Reduce Mosquito-Borne Avian Disease in Hawai’i." Techniques for landscape-level vector suppression are urgently needed to prevent the extinction of more than a dozen native Hawaiian bird species and to preserve a unique biological and cultural resource that helps to shape Hawaiian identity and supports human well-being. Dr. Katherine McClure will discuss the development of a mosquito control program involving the release of Wolbachia–transinfected southern house mosquitoes, Culex quinquefasciatus, into strategically selected native bird habitat to suppress mosquito populations and reduce avian malaria transmission.

Katherine McClure obtained her Ph.D. from the University of California Santa Cruz in Marm Kilpatrick’s lab, where she used field, lab, and quantitative methods to investigate the drivers of avian malaria transmission and impacts to native birds in lowland Hawaii. As a postdoctoral researcher at the USDA-APHIS National Wildlife Research Center in Fort Collins, Colorado, Katherine developed spatially-explicit individual-based models of raccoon movement, host-host contact, and oral-baited rabies vaccine exposure to improve rabies vaccination baiting strategies for raccoons, a key wildlife reservoir of rabies and target of a wildlife vaccination program in the U.S.

She joined the College of Veterinary Medicine as an Atkinson Center Postdoctoral Fellow with Professor Steve Osofsky and the Wildlife Health & Health Policy Group in September 2019. Her work is part of a partnership between the American Bird Conservancy, federal partners at the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Cornell CVM to advance an evidence-based Incompatible Insect Technique (IIT) vector control program in Hawaii. 

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