I live in central Illinois with my family. I teach graduate students, veterinary students, and medical students, and I work with public health and mosquito control people on research. In my spare time, I make music, knit and crochet, cook, and read.
I grew up on a farm and wanted to be a cow vet, but when I got into vet school I learned about epidemiology and fell in love. Even then, I planned to work mostly with cow diseases, but I’ve been pulled into human health work through the concept of One Health, which says that human, animal, and environmental health is linked. Now I don’t ever want to go back to just one species, just one type of health research. I love that I get to work with so many amazing people – engineers, microbiologists, anthropologists, and programmers.
I have 2 small kids (3rd grade and preschool), so I spend a lot of my time just being a mom. Our family loves to have dance parties and to make fart jokes!
My pronouns are:
I do a lot of different types of research on a lot of different diseases. Most of my focus is understanding how we look for diseases, predict what they will do, and figure out how to stop them.
I work on a lot of diseases. For instance, I study West Nile Virus, which is carried by mosquitoes. We work with mosquito control organizations to predict where people are at risk so they can take action (spraying for mosquitoes, or just letting people know to be careful). I also study diseases that are carried by ticks, so my team go out looking for ticks so we know where they are, when they are there, and what diseases they are carrying. We then try to predict where people need to be especially careful about ticks. I’ve also done a lot of work around COVID-19, especially what tests should we use when and how we should protect ourselves, our schools, and our communities.
My Typical Day:
I get up and exercise, then have breakfast with my family (oatmeal and coffee). I usually work from my home office, where I spend my time doing a mix of writing, programming, reading, and lots and lots of meetings. At 5pm, I pick up my kids from school.
My work is almost entirely on the computer! I spend a lot of time reading and writing, because that is how scientists learn from each other. I also spend a lot of time programming, which is my actual research. Most often, though, I spend time in meetings. I work with a lot of students doing their own research, and we meet every week to talk about what they are doing and to solve problems they find.
What I'd do with the prize money:
We would set up a program to teach kids about ticks and mosquitoes and the diseases they carry, and make sure we can give it in Spanish as well as English.
My team loves to teach people about mosquitoes and ticks, and the diseases they carry! We teach all sorts of adults about them, but we’ve never done a class for kids. We would love to hire some teachers to help us design a workshop to teach kids about these topics. Our area has a program called Cena y Ciencia, that does science workshops in Spanish for kids, so we would also want to translate the workshop into Spanish.
Gustavus Adolphus College
Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine
Kansas State University
BA in Biology (with Honors), Gustavus Adolphus College
DVM, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University
MS (Biosecurity and Risk Analysis), Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University
PhD (Epidemiology), Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University
Customer service rep
Research dog caretaker
Caretaker for sick baby horses
Associate professor of epidemiology, University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, and Health Innovations Professor, Carle-Illinois College of Medicine
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
curious, quiet, loving
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
fight the pandemic!
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
joy in the work
What was your favorite subject at school?
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
for being a smart-aleck
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Who is your favorite singer or band?
Le Vent du Nord
What's your favorite food?
Asian noodles (all types) with lots of fresh veggies
What is the most fun thing you've done?
My family goes to a different National Park every year
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
1. read more for fun; 2. visit New Zealand; 3. relax more
Tell us a joke.
Why did the cow cross the road? To go to the moovies