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Teaching Students Xenosurveillance Techniques in Kenya

  • A group of George Mason University undergrad students pose for a photo in the field in Kenya

Twenty undergraduate students from George Mason University joined the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute's Global Health Program in the field from July 31 to Aug. 13, 2018.

The students, along with research associate professor Michael von Fricken, traveled to Mpala Research Center in Kenya to work with Global Health Program staff, Dr. Lindsey Shields and Dr. Dawn Zimmerman. The two-week, immersive field-training course included training on the collection and processing of ticks and mosquitoes from the environment and from livestock, such as goats, sheep, cattle and camels.

A group of three researchers hold a net and examine it for insects during a field project in Kenya

The course provided an introduction to the importance of cross-disciplinary work in infectious diseases. Students also participated in a simulation of an outbreak investigation led by Dr. Shields, giving them a chance to see how real-life zoonotic disease outbreak investigations work.

This trip was the beginning of an annual collaboration between GHP staff and professors at George Mason University's School of Public Health, training tomorrow's public health leaders on the important intersection of human health with wildlife health.