Partnership to create training opportunities for next generation of entomologists to combat vector-borne disease
Annapolis, MD; August 30, 2021—The Entomological Society of America will play a leading role in strengthening the nation’s capacity in public health entomology, thanks to a new $500,000 cooperative agreement awarded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The funding will support programs to expand and diversify the pipeline of students and professionals entering public health entomology careers.
Beginning in 2022, ESA will launch a one-year fellowship for recent graduates and a 10-week internship for current undergraduate students to work alongside CDC entomologists and gain hands-on training, field work, and laboratory experience in medical entomology. Participants for both programs will be sought from federally designated minority-serving institutions.
“Protecting Americans from diseases that are spread by mosquitoes and ticks is a critical capacity for the CDC and other public health agencies. There is a great opportunity to enhance today’s medical entomologist workforce by developing professionals who are underrepresented in STEM and entomology,” says ESA President Michelle S. Smith, BCE. “This will better equip the profession to communicate and solve vector-management problems together with the communities they serve. We are eager to work with the CDC on these new efforts to build the next generation of entomologists that our country needs.”
The $500,000 granted to ESA was awarded through the CDC’s “Improving Clinical and Public Health Outcomes through National Partnerships to Prevent and Control Emerging and Re-Emerging Infectious Disease Threats” funding opportunity announced in 2020.
In addition to the fellowship and internship programs, over the course of the next several years ESA will work to establish or deepen ties other organizations and higher education institutions working to increase equity and inclusion in STEM and public health fields. Additional efforts supported by the award will include mentorship programs, a video and social media campaign to build interest in public health entomology careers, a webinar series, and in-person visits to minority-serving institutions and scientific societies.
These efforts will expand upon ESA’s strong foundation as a champion for insect science and its dedication to building a diverse and inclusive entomology profession. Through ESA’s Science Policy Program, its leadership role in the Vector-Borne Disease Network, and its Public Health Entomologist Certificate program, the Society works to support the CDC’s goal of reducing the impact of vector-borne disease in the United States.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated the importance of public health infrastructure. The lessons from Zika were learned not that long ago, and yet as a nation we still don’t have enough public health entomologists to respond to future pandemics, which could be spread by insects,” Smith says. “As climate change becomes an increasing challenge, so will new vectors in places where they haven’t previously had an ecological niche. The best way to respond to those challenges is by having a large, diverse entomological workforce with the expertise and cultural competence to address new and emerging threats.”
ESA will begin preparatory work for the fellowship and internship programs immediately, with the goal of naming the first cohort of participants by summer 2022.
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ABOUT: The Entomological Society of America is the largest organization in the world serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and people in related disciplines. Founded in 1889, ESA today has over 7,000 members affiliated with educational institutions, health agencies, private industry, and government. Headquartered in Annapolis, Maryland, the Society stands ready as a non-partisan scientific and educational resource for all insect-related topics. For more information, visit http://www.entsoc.org.