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Mosquito and Vector-Borne Infectious Disease Facility

Student conducting mosquito research


The Mosquito and Vector-Borne Infectious Disease Facility is a research laboratory within the School of Health Sciences that focuses on domestic mosquito-borne diseases in the western North Carolina region. The primary mission of the facility is to address the regional needs relating specifically to La Crosse Encephalitis education, prevention, and response. La Crosse encephalitis is the most common mosquito-borne disease in North Carolina and is chiefly a problem in the western most counties.

Research conducted within the laboratory is supervised by Dr. Brian Byrd, Associate Professor (Environmental Health Sciences).

People and Partners

  • Ellie Armstrong (Biology – Undergraduate)
  • Chase Bishop (Chemistry – Undergraduate)
  • Corey Day (Biology – Undergraduate)
  • Rylee Dean (Integrated Health Sciences – Undergraduate)
  • Nicole Foley (Environmental Health – Undergraduate)
  • Justin Graham (Biology – Undergraduate)
  • Kaylin Lewandowski (Biology – Undergraduate)
  • Anna O-Carrol (Computer Information Sciences – Undergraduate)
  • Miranda Pavey (Environmental Health – Undergraduate)
  • Erin Pittman (Environmental Health – Undergraduate)
  • Paige Robinson (Chemistry-Undergraduate)
  • Ariel Whitwell (Environmental Health – Undergraduate)
  • Charles Wise (Biology – Undergraduate)
  • Bo Wiseman (Environmental Health – Undergraduate)


Lauren Allen (Post-Bac Student, 2012) completed her DNP at UNC-Greensboro in 2018.

Alexa Cassell (ENVH, Forensic Chemistry, 2015) has recently accepted a position in the Environmental Health Program at Mecklenburg County Health Department, Charlotte, NC.

Makensey Campbell (ENVH/BIO, 2015) is studying dentistry at West Virginia University.

Alan Goggins (ENVH, 2010) completed his PhD at Tulane University and is currently a Post-Doctoral Scientist at Merck. Alan was recently awarded the American Society of Microbiology Robert D. Watkins Graduate Research Fellowship. ( Link)

Erin Gymburch (ENVH/FS, 2012) completed her MPH at the University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia. She is a commissioned officer in the United States Public Health Service.

Ginny Hopkins (FS 2011) attended the University of South Carolina (MPH - Environmental Health) and is currently employed at Oak Ridge National Laboratories.

Joel Lowery (ENVH, 2015) completed an MPH program in Infectious Disease Pathogenesis, Eradication and Laboratory Practice at the University of Pittsburgh. He is employed at the New River Health District in Virginia.

Tyler McKinnish (BIO/ENVH, 2013) has completed medical school at UNC-CH and is currently a OB-GYN resident at Washington University, St. Louis, MO.

Michael Riles (BIO/ENVH, 2013) is currently employed as an entomologist at Beach Mosquito Control District in Panama City, FL.

Leland Shockley (ENVH, 2013) is currently working as a professional fly fishing guide and can occasionally be found on dry land near the Tuckasegee River.

Michael Singleton (ENVH, 2010) is a Registered Environmental Health Specialist (Carteret County, NC).

Charles Sither (ENVH 2011, BIO 2018) recently (August 2018) began his PhD studies at NCSU.

Marissa Taylor (ENVH 2016) completed her MPH at Emory University and is currently employed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA.


Laboratories and Equipment

The Mosquito and Vector-Borne Infectious Disease Facility is physically located within the College of Health and Human Sciences Building. The main laboratory is located on the 4th floor (Room 439). The Arthropod Containment Laboratory is also located nearby. We have the capability to combine both field and laboratory based studies on La Crosse encephalitis and other vector-borne disease. In addition, the laboratory now has the facilities to safely rear and identify wild-caught mosquitoes.

Research capacities include:

  • Microscopy
  • Nucleic Acid Amplification (Conventional and qPCR)
  • Cell Culture
  • Geographic Information Systems (ArcGIS)
  • Field Collection Methods

DNA Sequencing is available “in house” through collaboration the WCU Forensic Science program.

Scientific and experimental data are managed via SciNote electronic laboratory notebook software (Open Source).

Laboratory and field equipment include:

  • Autoclave
  • Biosafety Cabinets
  • Centrifuges
  • Chemical Hoods
  • Chill Table
  • ELISA Plate Reader
  • Fluorometer
  • Incubators and Waterbaths
  • Microdissection Equipment
  • Microscopes
  • Mixers
  • PCR and Gel Electrophoresis
  • RAMP Test Reader (Immunofluorescence Reader)
  • Spectrophotometers
  • Traps (e.g., CDC Light Traps, BG-Sentinel, Fay Prince, and Gravid Traps)
  • Ultralow Freezer
  • UV Transilluminator and Gel Documentation System
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