Photo By: Freddie Coleman

Kristi Miley, PhD Candidate, College of Public Health
University of South Florida, Global Health Infectious Disease Research, Unnasch Lab

Supervisor: Thomas R. Unnasch, PhD
Center Project 2: Wintertime transmission of Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus in Florida

Kristi Miley is a PhD candidate in the College of Public Health at the University of South Florida(USF) working on Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus (EEEV) research in the lab of Thomas Unnasch, PhD. Kristi completed her MS at USF studying onchocerciasis, also known as river blindness. Through her masters work, and several years as a veterinary technician, Kristi became interested in zoonotic diseases which lead her to her work now with mosquitoes in the Unnasch Lab.

Kristi’s dissertation focuses on the wintertime transmission (October-May) of EEEV in Florida, with the hypothesis that decreased winter transmission will lead to summers with fewer cases. To study this Kristi uses a series of mosquito traps, sentinel chickens, and case data from horses. Using the data about EEEV collected by local mosquito control agencies, they were able to create a risk map to better target where to place traps and sentinel chickens during the overwintering studies.

Photos by Kristi Miley

To better understand the ecology of this area around the study sites, Kristi uses camera traps to understand which hosts may be in each area. If fed mosquitoes are collected in traps they are tested to see what the mosquito’s last bloodmeal was and if there is any connection to the camera trap information. The combination of mosquito abundance data and bloodmeal analysis during overwintering allows for better understanding of the whole system of EEEV.

Photos of white tailed deer and bobcat By Kristi Miley

Weather is also important to understanding EEEV cases each year. In fact, Kristi has a recent publication focusing on the effect of El Nino and La Nina on horse cases of EEEV. Click here to learn more!

Photo of Uranotaenia sapphirina (left) and Culex spp. with mites on abdomen (right) by Kristi Miley

Kristi has also received several awards for her dissertation research. In February of this year, at the USF Health Research Day, the largest interdisciplinary research event at USF, Kristi won the Joseph Krzanowski, PhD Invited Oral Presentations Award, a Tampa General Hospital Sponsored Award. Last year she received the 2019 Student Honorary Awards for Research and Practice (SHARP) to present her current research on EEEV at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in National Harbor, Maryland. Kristi has also been offered the 2020 SHARP award to attend the 23rd annual National Delta Omega Poster Competition to be held at the American Public Health Association conference, as one of two graduate student nominees at USF.

Here is a news article about this year’s USF Health Research Day featuring Kristi: Click here!

Here is a video featuring her titled, “USF COPH: A day in the life of a student researcher”: Click here!

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