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OUR TEAM

GONZALO VAZQUEZ-PROKOPEC, PH.D.

Associate Professor

 

Gonzalo’s research interests are multidisciplinary and lie at the interface of ecology, spatial epidemiology, and global health. He bases his research program on the notion that disease occurrences are the result of intricate and complex interactions between hosts, pathogens, and natural or human-altered environments. He centers on vector-borne diseases such as dengue virus, West Nile virus and Chagas disease. He is motivated by the public health challenges faced by our increasingly urbanized world.

 

YAMILA ROMER, M.D.

Postdoctoral Researcher

 

Yamila is the director and a postdoctoral researcher for the Prokopec Lab. She studied at the School of Medicine at Buenos Aires University in Argentina where she received board certification as a medical doctor. Her research interests include infectious diseases, clinical microbiology, and internal medicine. The focus of her previous work specialized in infectious diseases. Yamila’s current interests center on the ecology and epidemiology of tick-borne diseases. She is motivated by the prospect of discovering novel tick-borne diseases that are emerging due to global environmental change.

Contact: yromer@emory.edu
 

  • NIH
  • Research Gate
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OSCAR DAVID KIRSTEIN, PH.D.

Postdoctoral Researcher

 

Oscar studied Biology, Zoology, and Botany at the National University of Northeast Argentina where his work focused on paleontology and biology of invertebrates and associated zoonotic diseases. He specialized as a medical entomologist working with parasitology of Chagas disease. Before earning his M.S. in Environmental Sciences and his Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem with work focusing on the eco-epidemiology and transmission dynamics of visceral leishmaniasis in Ethiopia. At the Prokopec Lab, he is the general coordinator of the T-IRS project and aids in undergraduate lab research. He is motivated to research using an interdisciplinary approach to understand disease transmission, gene expression, and improve health equity for the people most affected.

Contact: odkirstein@emory.edu

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SEBASTIÁN DURÁN

Graduate Student - Population Biology, Ecology, and Evolution

Sebastián is a Fulbright scholar and Ph.D. student from Colombia. He earned both his B.Sc. in biology and his M.S. in agricultural sciences from the National University of Colombia. While at UNC, he was involved in research on the ecology of mosquitoes. His research interests center around biology, ecology, and the control of mosquito vectors that transmit diseases to humans. His current research delves into the release of lab-reared mosquitoes containing the endosymbiont Wolbachia as a biological control mechanism against mosquito species that are invasive to Latin America. He is motivated by the real-world applications of his ecological research to help fight disease.

Contact: jdurana@emory.edu

 
 

ALI PÉREZ

Graduate Student - Environmental Sciences

 

Ali completed her B.Sc. in Coastal Environmental Science at Louisiana State University and is currently pursuing an M.S. in Environmental Sciences. She joined the Prokopec Lab to aid in research on environmental drivers of insecticide resistance evolution and the impact of community disease control methods on the population dynamics of mosquito vectors. Ali’s current research interests include genetic chemical resistance and the molecular biology of insect growth regulators. She is motivated to research using an interdisciplinary framework to better understand public health challenges associated with environmental diseases and improve health equity.
 

Contact: ali.perez@emory.edu

 

PIPER SHIFFLETT

Graduate Student - Global Health

 

Piper earned her B.A. in Biology and Global Public Health from the University of Virginia where she spent time researching malaria in South Africa. Currently, she is working towards her MPH in Global Health with a concentration in Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology through Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health. She joined the Prokopec Lab to assist in tick research, specifically looking for the Heartland Virus in Lone Star ticks. Her research interests include genetic markers for malaria parasitic resistance, geospatial analysis of infectious disease dynamics, and biosocial drivers of disease ecology. 

Contact: piper.shifflet@emory.edu

 

XORLA OCLOO

Graduate Student - Population Biology, Ecology, and Evolution

 

Xorla is a Ph.D. candidate in the Population Biology, Ecology, and Evolution program. She received her B.Sc. in Integrative Biology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and M.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Michigan. She is interested in researching social-ecological systems, agroecology, and sustainable development. Her current work involves sustainable rice-farming practices in norther Senegal using a multifaceted aquatic system. She is motivated by her commitment to her Ghanaian heritage, human rights, economic empowerment, and environmental stewardship. 

 

Contact: xorla.seyram.ocloo@emory.edu

 

PATRICK CORBETT

Graduate Student - Global Epidemiology

Patrick is a second year MSPH candidate in the Rollins School of Public Health where he is studying in global epidemiology. He joined the Prokopec Lab to research the clinical characteristics of dengue in collaboration with the team in Mérida, Mexico.

 

LUIZA KARRER

Undergraduate Student - Biology and Psychology

Luiza is a junior studying biology and psychology. She joined the Prokopec Lab in the spring of 2019 as a volunteer helping with mosquito trapping and data collection. She currently helps in DNA extraction and PCR procedures studying epidemiology of tick-borne diseases. She intends to attend medical school after graduating from Emory.  

ZHUORAN WEI

Undergraduate Student - Quantitative Sciences and Human Health

Zhuoran is a senior majoring in quantitative sciences and human health. She joined the Prokopec Lab in 2019 as a summer researcher collecting and processing ticks with Yamila. She currently helps with rearing mosquito colonies, analyzing data related to mosquito control using the endosymbiont Wolbachia, and building a chatbot to be used to investigate targeted indoor residual spraying (TIRS) for mosquito control. In the future, she hopes to pursue an MPH degree.

HAARIS JAMAL

Undergraduate Student - Human Health and Biology

Haaris is a senior studying human health and biology. He joined the Prokopec Lab in 2019 as a summer researcher collecting and processing ticks with Yamila. His current work investigates the insecticide resistance profile of Aedes mosquitoes native to the Atlanta area. He intends to attend medical school after graduating from Emory.

 
 
 

ELLIE FAUSSETT

Undergraduate Student - Environmental Sciences

 

Ellie is a junior majoring in environmental sciences. She joined the Prokopec Lab in 2019 to work with diapose eggs and to improve hatching procedures. She is currently researching under Yamila to establish H. Longicornis as a new species of tick in Georgia. She enjoys learning about the entomological aspects of disease vectors and hopes to one day earn her Ph.D. and continue studying epidemiology. 

 

NIK CHAUDHRY

Undergraduate Student - Human Health and Biology

 

Nik is a sophomore at Emory College majoring in human health and biology. He joined the Prokopec Lab in 2019 as an undergraduate volunteer working with Sebastian on insecticide resistance research, and his research interests include the epidemiology of arboviruses and zoonotic diseases. After graduation, he hopes to attend law school and pursue a career in biotechnology patent law.

ERICA KAHN

Undergraduate Student - Environmental Sciences

 

Erica is a junior majoring in environmental science with hopes of pursuing an MPH degree. Erica began volunteering in the lab in 2020 and was greeted by a welcoming community. Erica worked to improve hatching procedures, and she currently works with Ali and Zhuoran studying atypical insecticides like pyriproxyfen within the lab. She has enjoyed studying mosquito biology and arboviruses and looks forward to furthering her involvement in the lab.

 
 

JULIA (J) RAYMOND

Undergraduate Student - Environmental Sciences and Human Health

J is a senior majoring in human health and environmental sciences. She is interested in researching the factors that affect how diseases are transmitted relative to changing environmental conditions and the resulting impacts on human health. In lab, she is primarily involved in ongoing mosquito research.

 

V. SCOTT HERRON

Undergraduate Student - Environmental Sciences

 

Scott is a sophomore studying environmental sciences. She joined the Prokopec Lab in 2020 and currently helps Ali and Zhuoran to study atypical insecticides like pyriproxyfen. Her research interests include the spatial repellency behaviors of vectors, specifically how nepetalactone (catnip) functions to repel mosquitoes. In the future, Scott hopes to attend graduate school and continue researching. Her ideal job would be to apply her knowledge of environmental science by working with toxic plants at places like The Poison Garden in the United Kingdom.

 

HENRY MANGALAPALLI

Undergraduate Student - Biology and African American Studies

 

Henry is a junior studying Biology and African American Studies. He joined the lab in 2020 with an interest in infectious diseases and disease vectors. He is currently working on an independent study project on the role of marmots in propagating the Bubonic Plague in Central Asia via transcontinental trade routes. His research interests include vector-borne diseases and prevention strategies with the goal of expanding access to medical treatment and community health education, especially among those whose circumstances or location prevent them from accessing medical treatment and educational materials on diseases. After graduation, he plans to continue studying the socioeconomic drivers of disease transmission and eventually become a trauma surgeon where this insight can be used to improve health equity for diverse communities. 

 

WARREN LUO

Undergraduate Student - Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology

 

Warren is a junior studying Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology. He joined Prokopec Lab in 2020 with an interest in pursuing field work and hands-on research that can have meaningful impact for public health. Previously, he studied interspecies aggression in Betta fish. His research interests include transmission of disease and behavioral science research. In the future, he plans to pursue a career in medicine.

 

ANISH (MAX) BAGGA

Undergraduate Student - Applied Mathematics

 

Max is a sophomore studying Applied Mathematics. In 2020, he joined Prokopec Lab because of its emphasis on the research of infectious diseases and their impact on public health. While he has previously researched infectious diseases such as Influenza, he is interested in learning more about the global health implications of these diseases. His other research interests include systems modeling, drug development, and the dual integration of math and science in these areas. He hopes to combine his passions for math and science to improve public health through research, technology development, and potentially healthcare.