Co-Investigators

Dr. Philip M. Armstrong- Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. 

Dr. Armstrong has more than 20 years of experience in vector biology and virology that is required to tackle the key components of applied research and training for the Center.  In 2004, he joined the faculty at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station to participate in the statewide mosquito surveillance program and developed his own research program on arthropod-borne viruses. Dr. Armstrong’s current research focuses on the molecular evolution and epidemiology of mosquito-borne viruses transmitted in New England, including eastern equine encephalitis virus and West Nile virus. Genetic relationships of these viruses were compared to track the origin, spread, and long-term persistence of strains involved in disease outbreaks. Other projects evaluated the role of different mosquito species to serve as vectors of arboviruses by determining their vector competence, and host-feeding and infection patterns in nature.  Dr. Armstrong is currently director of the Connecticut Mosquito and Arbovirus Surveillance Program. This program provides us with a 20 year database on mosquito populations and virus activity that will serve as a useful resource for the Center.

Dr. Dwight Bowman, Professor of Parasitology, Cornell School of Veterinary Medicine. 

Dr. Bowman earned his PhD from Tulane and then joined the Cornell faculty in 1987.  He has published 165 papers on human and animal parasitology.  At Cornell, he teaches popular courses in Medical Parasitology and Animal Parasitology as well as training a large cadre of Veterinary Medicine students and undergraduate researchers. Dr. Bowman will assist in curriculum development and will offer the parasitology course.  In addition, he will serve as a potential research project mentor for MS students.

Dr. Douglas E. Brackney- Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station

Over the last 12 years, Dr. Brackney has investigated many facets of virus-vector interactions, from the role of midgut trypsins in vector competence of mosquitoes to dengue virus, to examining the influences of mosquito RNAi antiviral response on the diversification of West Nile virus populations. During this time, he also gained experience working with tick vectors and the pathogens they transmit, with a particular emphasis on Powassan virus.  He brings his significant experience performing vector competence studies with numerous arboviruses and mosquito vectors as well as his experience working with ticks to the Center applied research activities. 

Dr. Alexander T. Ciota- NYS Department of Health/SUNY Albany.

Dr. Ciota has worked in the NYS Arbovirus laboratories for almost 13 years and he has over 16 years of experience in scientific research. In his current role as Deputy Director of the lab, he assists with oversight of New York’s statewide arbovirus surveillance program in addition to investigating numerous arbovirus research questions.   Dr. Ciota’s research to date has focused primarily on viral fitness and adaptation of flaviviruses, as well mosquito ecology and arbovirology.  He brings a blend of surveillance and research expertise to the Center program. Dr. Ciota will be responsible for overseeing vectorial capacity and genetics studies and for directing research staff.

Dr. Thomas J. Daniels- Calder Center, Director, Louis Calder Center, Fordham University.   

For 30 years, Dr. Daniels has been involved in research on the biology of tick vectors in the Northeast region.  Since 1987, together with Dr. Rich Falco, he has been conducting the longest running continuous single site population sampling of blacklegged ticks in the US.  Dr. Daniel’s research has focused on tick reproductive behavior and seasonal activity patterns, geographic spread of blacklegged ticks and their pathogens.  In addition, he has investigated the utility of control strategies such as deer exclosures, host-targeted acaricides, use of entomopathogenic fungi to control ticks, development of botanical tick and mosquito repellents, and the efficacy of pheromone-based acaricides in the field.   He brings his experience to both applied research projects, the MS program and training opportunities for Health department personnel.

Dr. Arthur DeGaetano, Professor, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Northeast Regional Climate Center, Cornell University.

Dr DeGaetano’s research focuses on applied climatology.  He develops methods and data sets that provide climatological information to decision makers. He has studied the impact of climate on Culex populations in the northeast USA and has developed predictive models for mosquito populations. He teaches courses in Global Warming, EAS 268; EAS 341, Atmospheric Thermodynamics and Hydrostatics, and EAS 447, Physical Meteorology.   Dr. DeGaetano will contribute his expertise to the climate modeling applied research cluster and will serve as a potential mentor for the MS student research projects.

Dr. Oliver Elison-Timm, Associate Professor, Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, SUNY Albany. 

Dr. Elison-Timm investigates paleoclimate and impacts of future climate change on regional climate.  Dr. Elison-Timm’s research goal is to obtain more detailed and robust information about regional climate change that can contribute to more informed decision making. He is developing improved methods that will build capacities towards a combined statistical-dynamical downscaling approach, which can improve the confidence in high-resolution downscaled climate change scenarios.  Dr. Elison-Timm will oversee design and execution of applied research projects and contribute critical expertise in climatological modeling and predictions as a research mentor and investigator throughout these studies.

Dr. Richard Falco- Research Scientist 4, Regional Medical Entomologist, NYS Department of Health. Dr. Falco has been studying the ecology of ticks and mosquitoes in New York State for 35 years.  He began working for the Westchester County Health Department after earning his PhD and then later moved to Fordham where he started a long term collaboration with Dr. Tom Daniels. During this time period, he studied the peri-domestic nature of Lyme disease, conducted extensive studies on tick bite epidemiology, and helped describe the ecology and seasonal activity patterns of the black-legged tick in NY.   During the 1999 West Nile virus outbreak in the New York area, Dr. Falco assisted the NYSDOH, the NYCDOH, and local health departments in the lower Hudson Valley with mosquito surveillance and was involved in studies related to the outbreak. He began work as a  NYSDOH Regional Medical Entomologist in 2006, based at Fordham University’s Louis Calder Center.  Dr. Falco’s recent work includes a statewide tick surveillance project and several studies related to the distribution of the invasive mosquito species Ae. japonicus and Ae. albopictus.   Dr. Falco will contribute to training and mentoring students in the applied research clusters as well as providing workshops for Health Department personnel together with Dr. Daniels at the Calder Center.

Dr. Jody Gangloff-Kaufman- Community IPM Coordinator, NYS Integrated Pest Management Program.  Dr. Gangloff-Kaufman is also an adjunct Sr. Extension Associate in the Cornell Department of Entomology.   She uses a community IPM to explore alternatives to traditional pesticides, including the investigation of novel traps, repellents, and natural and low-risk pesticide products. She has tested biological control agents and botanical products against ticks and conducts other research to allow communities to adopt IPM practices.  Dr. Gangloff-Kaufmann leads a community education program and frequently presents talks to the pest management industry, advocates, school and county workers, and other audiences. She uses writing and social media to educate a variety of audiences.  Dr. Gangloff-Kaufman will provide her expertise in the Center for community related control strategies for mosquitoes and ticks.

Dr. Amy Glaser- Senior Extension Associate, Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory, Cornell School of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Glaser’s laboratory provides services to identify West Nile Virus, Eastern equine encephalitis virus, Ehrlichia canis, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, and Borrelia burgdorferi in samples submitted to the laboratory for testing. Her group has recently expanded our assay repertoire to include Borrelia miyamotoi, Babesia microti, Powassan virus, Rickettsia species, Ehrlichia ewingii and Ehrlichia chaffeensis. Glaser’s laboratory is part of a fully accredited diagnostic laboratory following American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians Guidelines. As the largest accredited animal diagnostic laboratory in the North-East, Dr. Glaser is well-positioned to be able to provide passive surveillance results for samples submitted to the lab from domestic species and wildlife for the pathogens mentioned above. The AHDLs high-throughput capacity also enables them to rapidly and accurately identify parasite burdens in vectors. Dr. Glaser will provide her expertise on arboviral and tick borne diagnostics for applied research clusters and will host MS students for training and research projects.

Dr. Mani Lejeune- Director of Clinical Parasitology, Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory, Cornell School of Veterinary Medicine.

Over the last 15 years, Dr. Lejeune has applied his diagnostic expertise to studies of ticks, mites and fleas of veterinary, wildlife and public health significance. In his role as parasitologist at the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative (CWHC) during 2010-16, Dr. Lejeune was engaged in passive surveillance (through extensive network of field biologist) for vectors and vector-borne disease of wild and domestic animals of western Canada. He also carried out targeted surveillance for vectors (ticks and fleas) and analyzed them for zoonotic pathogens. As current Director of clinical parasitology at the NYS Animal Health Diagnostic Center, Dr. Lejeune oversees the day-to-day diagnostic activities of the lab which receives specimen submissions from veterinary clients across the US and in particular the Northeastern region. Dr. Lejeune will participate in the parasitology course for the MS curriculum and he will host MS research students in the Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory.

 

Dr. Kathleen McDonough- Research Scientist VI, NYS Department of Health/SUNY Albany. 

Dr. McDonough’s lab works on Yersinia pestis, the etiologic agent of bubonic and pneumonic plague. She employs a variety of techniques, ranging from molecular genetics and biochemistry, to bioinformatics, proteomics and fluorescence microscopy to study this pathogen.  Recently, Dr. McDonough initiated a new transdisciplinary program on Climate Change and Emerging Infectious Diseases (CCEID) as a collaborative effort between vector biology and infectious disease specialists with climate scientists at NYS DOH and SUNY Albany. Dr. McDonough will also participate Center student training and contribute expertise on the biology of emerging infectious diseases and biosafety.

Dr. Goudarz Molaei- Associate Research Scientist, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.  

Dr. Molaei joined The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) in 2004 to conduct research on eco-epidemiology of vector-borne pathogens. Dr. Molaei has investigated host interactions of mosquito vectors of malaria and arboviruses for nearly three decades. He has developed and implemented molecular methods to analyze the host-feeding patterns of mosquito vectors to better understand transmission dynamics and epidemiology of arboviruses including West Nile virus (WNV) and eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV). In collaboration with other scientists/postdoctoral fellows, Dr. Molaei has also investigated population genetics of the WNV vector, Culex pipiens complex. His recent work on host associations of Culiseta melanura highlighted the importance of vector host feeding patterns in transmission of EEEV and clarified the role of several avian species as super-spreaders of the virus in the northeastern and mid-Atlantic regions. Dr. Molaei is currently directing the CAES Tick Testing Program, and also conducting research on ticks and tick-associated diseases. Dr. Molaei has an Associate Clinical Professor appointment at the Yale School of Public Health, where he advises students and co-teaches a course on the biology of human disease vectors.   

Dr. Jeffrey G. Scott- Professor, Cornell Department of Entomology.  

Professor Scott has investigated numerous aspects of insecticide resistance over the last three decades, including identification of mechanisms of resistance, population genetics, and evolution.  Dr. Scott’s research has included investigations of resistance in Culex pipiens, Aedes aegypti and Anopheles stephensi. He teaches courses in “Insecticide Toxicology and Pesticides” and “The Environment and Human Health”.  He will participate in co-leading and advising students and postdocs in the resistance management and monitoring for applied research clusters.  He will contribute to the curriculum and serve as a potential host for MS students.

 

Dr. Kirby Stafford III- Chief Entomologist, State Entomologist, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.

Dr. Stafford has 29 years of experience leading studies of the control of the blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis. Dr. Stafford is currently Chief (Head) Entomologist and State Entomologist. Dr. Stafford joined The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in 1987 to work on the ecology and control of the blacklegged tick. His initial research focused on the application of pesticides for tick control, but soon included studies of the tick parasitic wasp Ixodiphagus hookeri, deer exclusion and reduction, the topical application of pesticides to white-tailed deer and white-footed mice, landscape modifications, biological and natural chemical tick control, and community-based Lyme disease prevention projects. Recently, Dr. Stafford has coordinated an integrated tick management (ITM) project utilizing the fungus Metarhizium anisopliae, rodent-targeted bait boxes and deer reduction. In addition, he has examined some climatic variables on the activity of I. scapularis and conductes overwintering survival studies.  Dr. Stafford will bring his expertise to the applied research focus areas and will serve as a mentor for students through the Center.

Dr. Madeleine Thomson- Senior Research Scientist, Columbia University.

Dr. Thomson’s early career was spent engaged in operational research in support of large-scale health interventions, primarily in Africa. Over time her research has increasingly focused on climate-sensitive health outcomes and the role that climate information may play in improving climate sensitive health outcomes including those that result from vector, water and air-borne diseases. It has centered on the role that environment (especially climate variability and change) plays in driving changes in spatial and temporal risk and draws on a wide range of interdisciplinary skills including entomology, epidemiology, geography, climate science, remote sensing, spatio-temporal modeling, risk analysis, policy analytics etc. and the relevance of this knowledge to public health planning, surveillance and response. Dr. Thompson currently serves as the Director of the IRI-PAHO/WHO Collaborating Center (US 306) for “Malaria Early Warning and other climate sensitive diseases”.  She will bring this unique background and experience to the training and research components of the Center.

 

Dr. Maraa Uriarte- Professor, Columbia University.  Department of Ecology, Evolution & Environmental Biology and Earth Institute Faculty, Columbia University. 

Dr. Uriarte conducts a diversity of research projects with the application of spatially-explicit modeling techniques, data assimilation, simulation, and other advanced statistical and modeling tools to understand and forecast the dynamics of tropical forests ecosystems in response to disturbance.  Using advanced statistical methods, Dr. Uriarte simultaneously incorporates covariates collected at various spatial and temporal scales with the goal of providing accurate predictions and evaluating scenarios of forest response to natural and anthropogenic drivers. These spatially-explicit models not only accurately predict the impacts of each driver, but they do so at the appropriate scale.  Dr. Uriarte will contribute her skills and knowledge to the applied research collaborations.

Dr. Bettina Wagner- Professor of Immunology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University.

Dr. Wagner is Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education and director of the Serology laboratory at the Animal Health Diagnostic Center (AHDC) at Cornell University since 2006. The AHDC is an accredited veterinary diagnostic laboratory and serves veterinarian in NYS and throughout the US.  Dr. Wagner’s high-throughput Serology section at the AHDC performs approximately 75,000 diagnostic tests per year. It is the first veterinary diagnostic laboratory that performs serological multiplex assays, such as the Lyme Multiplex Assay. The Lyme Multiplex Assay is a validated and A2LA accredited diagnostic test for horses and dogs. It allows identification of animals that are not infected with B. burgdorferi, and those that are in the early or chronic, persistent infection stages. The test has also been used for research purposes for samples from many other species, including people. In addition, Dr. Wagner’s Serology section at the AHDC performs serological testing for West Nile Virus. The laboratory provides an ideal environment and modern facilities for training students and postdocs in diagnostic sciences, including novel serologic testing technologies such as multiplex assays, high quality reagent and assay development and validation, high-throughput technologies and instrumentation, and diagnostic assay and laboratory quality control systems. Dr. Wagner will provide her expertise on Lyme disease and diagnostics for monitoring in applied research clusters.  She will also serve as a potential host for MS student research.

Dr. Dennis J. White. Associate Director, Office of Health Emergency Preparedness, New York State Department of Health, and Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, State University of New York at Albany.  

Dr. White was instrumental in the early introduction research on West Nile virus. From 1985 through 2009, he was the Director, Arthropod-borne Disease Program, Bureau of Communicable Disease Control, New York State Department of Health, Albany, New York. Dr. White coordinated program activities for six doctoral and masters-level research scientists and their technical staff associated with the regional offices of the Department. Established four NYSDOH vector-borne disease ecology laboratories at academic institutions across NYS to include Fordham University, Hudson Valley Community College, Cornell University and Buffalo State College. In addition, he coinvestigated various aspects of mosquito-borne encephalitis viruses and tick-borne etiologic agents including Lyme disease, babesiosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Dr. White also coordinated the NYSDOH entomological surveillance and control efforts against the West Nile virus outbreak in the metropolitan NYC area during 1999, and statewide in 2000. In June 2000, he received a Commissioner’s Recognition Award as a member of the West Nile Virus Response Team. In the wake of the WNV introduction, over an 18-month period, Dr. White developed and chaired the International West Nile Virus Conference in association with the NYSDOH, New York Academy of Sciences, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and New York City Department of Health, held April 4-7, 2001 in White Plains, New York.  Dr. White has taught epidemiology courses and SUNY Albany School of Public Health and he will bring his wealth of experience and knowledge to the training and education goals of the Center.

Dr. Scott C. Williams- Associate Agricultural Scientist, Department of Forestry and Horticulture, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. 

Dr. Williams is a Certified Wildlife Biologist with The Wildlife Society and has worked on a variety of projects related to the biology and ecology of zoonotic pathogen reservoir hosts and their vectors over his 16 years at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.  He has captured and collected over 3,500 blood samples from both host competent (Peromyscus leucopus) and host incompetent (Odocoileus virginianus) reservoirs for screening for the presence of various tick-borne pathogens throughout the State of Connecticut.  He has also conducted numerous research projects on white-tailed deer including non-lethal male sterilization techniques, investigating deer behavioral responses to different lethal removal efforts, and limitations of regulated hunting in achieving deer densities compatible with tick and associated tick-borne disease abatement in residential settings.  His more recent research includes documentation of the ecological interconnectedness of overabundant deer herds and resulting invasive-dominated landscapes (specifically Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii)) and their positive associations with both Ixodes scapularis and Borrelia burgdorferi prevalence.  Dr. Williams will coordinate field research and will collaborate with postdoctoral students at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.