project 1 How does type 2 diabetes impact malaria parasite development and transmission?
More than half of the world’s population is at risk for malaria, with over 200 million new infections occurring annually. Simultaneously, many malaria-endemic regions are facing dramatic increases in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes. By 2030, almost 24 million people in Africa, and 100 million people in Southeast Asia, are predicted to develop type 2 diabetes. The adoption of a more sedentary Western lifestyle, changes in diet, and genetic predispositions will accelerate this trend. As the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in malaria-endemic regions increases, it is imperative that we understand how this chronic metabolic disorder impacts the transmission of infectious diseases such as malaria. The goal of this project is to understand how type 2 diabetes alters the development and transmission of malaria parasites to mosquitoes.
Project 2 Can hackathons be used as an educational and community building activity for college students?
In collaboration with Dr. Akhavian and Dr. Tandon we held the first CSUEB science & technology hack day with the theme of "Drones and Disease” . This hack day focused on developing drone-based tools to disrupt transmission of mosquito-borne illnesses. The goal was to develop an environment where unique interdisciplinary and cross-cultural relationships could be built amongst students, while simultaneously expanding their scientific and technological knowledge base. Survey data on the demographics and experiences of students was collected pre- and post-hack day participation. The demographics of our participants closely matched that of the university and our participants were equally distributed between science and technology majors. We found that the majority of the 60+ students who attended would return for another hack day, felt that they made long-lasting relationships with other participants and agreed that they learned new skills and/or gained new knowledge during the event. We are now in the process of planning the next hack day and developing this project further.
Project 3 establishing an insect petting zoo to travel to local schools
We are in the process of establishing an ongoing outreach program centered around a traveling live insect exhibit. In order to do so we will first establish colonies of six species of ‘petting’ insects, these are insects that can be handled safely and easily by children and students. Secondly, educational materials such as informational posters, worksheets, etc. will be developed around each of these insect species. Third, relationships will be developed with local elementary schools and so that students can begin taking the insects to classrooms. Finally, a website will be built so that other schools can request an insect visit, classroom materials can be shared, and funds donated, with the ultimate goal of making the outreach program self-sustaining.