PRISM 2019

 In Summer 2019, I participated in PRISM with faculty member Dr. Kathy Gee and partner Curran Atkinson.

Perspectives on Research in Science and Mathematics, or PRISM, is an intense and competitive 8-week summer research experience.

We researched control and mitigation techniques for mosquitoes in rainwater harvesting systems. Rainwater harvesting is a viable method for stormwater management; however, they can attract mosquitoes when unmaintained. As this increases as a public health risk due to their capability of spreading arboviral diseases, it is important to provide rainwater harvesting system owners with a successful method of controlling mosquitoes. The goal of this study was to evaluate four techniques that could potentially decrease the presence of mosquitoes in rainwater harvesting systems. In three rounds, we sampled mosquito larvae and adults to determine which was the most effective in reducing mosquito populations. Treatments tested include: two types of biological larvicide (Natular® DT Tablets and Mosquito Dunks®), screening an/or sealing any entrances in the tank, and weekly draining of the tank via an automated valve. Larvae were trapped using larval traps replicated from Harrison et al., 1982. Adults were also sampled using Gravid and BG-Sentinel traps as an environmental comparison. Larvae and adults were counted and identified to species. Although the results are being statistically evaluated at this time, the results from this research could potentially be presented to rainwater harvesting system owners to inform them on effective treatment methods for mosquitoes and increase public safety. This research experience has made me realize how climate change is impacting public health.

PRISM has been a pivotal point in my undergraduate career. Throughout the eight weeks, I was constantly learning through my research, and Dr. Gee challenged me with our intensive field work and laboratory skills. In the end, my confidence soared as an aspiring scientist. This program is critical for fostering the gifts of young science students at Longwood and creating a meaningful experience for a future generation of researchers and citizen leaders. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to do graduate-level work as a rising junior.

The artifact I chose was our submission for the student poster competition at the 73rd Annual Virginia Mosquito Control Association Conference in Virginia Beach. The conference took place from January 27th – 29th. We placed 4th in the competition. The conference allowed my research team to network with mosquito control municipalities across the state of Virginia. Also, we were able to learn about current research being conducted in public health, stormwater management, and mosquito control thatrelated to our project.