AC students to present mosquito research at national conference

Two Amarillo College students who collaborated last summer with the City of Amarillo to discern if locally captured mosquitoes carried harmful diseases are poised to present the details of their study at a national conference.

Marcus Baber-Newton and Dustan Francis will attend the 89th annual meeting of the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) Feb. 27-March 3 in Reno, Nev., where they will participate in the general poster competition.

Also representing AC at the conference will be Dr. Jacob Price, assistant professor of biological sciences; Teresa Gaus-Bowling, STEM faculty program coordinator; and Crystal Moss, STEM Research Center coordinator. Additionally, the AC contingent will be joined by Zac Badrow, environmental health specialist for the City of Amarillo Environmental Health, who leads the city’s mosquito abatement efforts and holds membership in the AMCA.

Price said Badrow’s presence at the national convention will be invaluable in helping the AC students expand their networks and explore new worlds of opportunity.

It was while working closely with Badrow that Baber-Newton and Francis trapped and quantified insects at multiple city locations, learned how to classify and separate out the notorious, virus-transmitting female mosquitoes, processed them, and performed the necessary high-tech analyses.

They titled the poster they will present in Reno “Presence of Vector-Borne Mosquito Viruses in Amarillo, TX.”

“Our students not only used cutting-edge equipment to conduct Tier I-level biotechnology research,” Price said, “but their specimen-collection data helped the Department of Environmental Health in Amarillo to adjust their treatment plans and better pinpoint their abatement strategies around the city.

“These types of real-world collaborations definitely benefit our students and our community.”