Avian Malaria in Hawaii

Christa Seidl – Kilpatrick Lab

Positions: 1 intern

Tentative dates: July – September 2021

Project Location: Mostly main campus with some Coastal Campus lab work.

Project Background: The Kilpatrick Lab researches the ecology of infectious diseases with an emphasis on zoonotic and wildlife pathogens. We use a combination of field research, empirical lab studies, and mathematical modeling to uncover host-vector-pathogen dynamics and how they can change over time and space. One of our current research projects focuses on avian malaria in Hawaiian birds, a parasitic disease pushing many of Hawaii’s endemic and charismatic native species toward extinction. We are examining differences in the virulence of Plasmodium relictum strains using a non-native invasive bird species, the Warbling White-eye (Zosterops japonicus), and the infectiousness of this host to Culex quinquefasciatus mosquitoes.

Intern duties: We are looking for a responsible and motivated student interested in acquiring animal husbandry and disease ecology skills. The student will be responsible for animal care responsibilities, including but not limited to: assisting with food/water/cage cleaning for captive birds, mosquito rearing and feeding trials, microscopy and slide preparation, biological sample collection, shipping and storage, and data entry. Due to the nature of animal care, the student will be expected to adhere to strong safety protocols and keep an assigned schedule and hours. Some weekend work and occasional long days should also be expected. The student will learn to design experiments, create chemical solutions, write protocols, and maintain laboratory notebooks with daily activities, all skills highly applicable to many clinical research fields.

Intern qualifications: Candidates will have taken at least one chemistry, microbiology, or biology laboratory class with training in aseptic laboratory technique and will have a basic knowledge of making chemical solutions. The student should be detail-orientated, well-organized, a good communicator, and easy to contact. They must also be comfortable working with animals and insects in a laboratory setting. Access to reliable transportation (bus, bike, car, etc.) is also required.

Do you recommend the intern(s) volunteer in your lab during Spring quarter?
Yes, the student is encouraged to reach out to the mentor in Spring 2021 to get project updates and early training if possible.

UC Santa Cruz Land Acknowledgement

“The land from which we base our work is the unceded territory of the Awaswas-speaking Uypi Tribe. The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, comprised of the descendants of indigenous people taken to missions Santa Cruz and San Juan Bautista during Spanish colonization of the Central Coast, is today working hard to restore traditional stewardship practices on these lands and heal from historical trauma.”