Fonseca Lab


Global Health Institute

19 October 2017 – Dina attended a (almost) all day retreat to define the mission of the Rutgers Global Health Institute. She contributed to the inclusion of foci in vector-borne diseases and urban health as well as the importance of direct community engagement (will follow up with colleagues she met from the School of Public Health and Information & Communications). The Global health Institute is a new Rutgers venture, the Director, Dr. Richard Marlink joined a year ago.

A trip to stop them all

Rafael_Anne_DinaOctober 11, 2017 – Rafael, Anne Nielsen and Dina met up with Sven-Erik Spichiger (PA Department of Agriculture) and visited sites in Pennsylvania infested with the spotted lanternfly (SLF), Lycormia denticulata. A beauty and a beast. SLF was first detected in eastern PA (Berks county) in 2014 and has since spread to five others (Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, Lehigh and Northampton). Arrival in NJ is imminent and we need to be pro-active. Rafael carefully collected samples of honeydew, soil, leaves covered in sap and black mold. Will there be detectable SLF DNA?? That is the question. For the answer, keep tuning in.


Dr. Brian Johnson’s departmental seminar is this Friday – be there or (boooo…)

Brian will give the Entomology Departmental Seminar this Friday, October 13 in Thompson Hall, Room 206 (11am-12noon). The title is “Advances in Vector Control Science: Rear and Release Strategies Show Promise…But Don’t Forget the Basics.”

Brian will provide an insider’s view of some of the newer strategies for area-wide control of invasive Aedes mosquitoes, which can vector dengue, Zika, chikungunya and yellow fever. He will discuss Wolbachia driven population replacement and sterile male techniques. As well as how many students are needed to blood feed a mosquito factory. Not to be missed! Perfect for Halloween! (coffee and donuts provided)

Rafael’s research highlighted by SEBS

Rafael’s accomplishments are front page in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SBES)! Read all about it in SEBS Newsroom, SEBS Facebook, and SEBS Twitter. Congratulations Rafael!

Sammi Schwab, is in the house

Samantha Rose Schwab, a mathematical modeler finishing her PhD with Dr. Nina Fefferman at U. Tennessee, is sharing an office with Agnesa downstairs in McLean. Funded by a NSF Zika RAPID Sammi has been examining the effects of timing and scale of mosquito control on Zika transmission.  Go visit: they have an expresso making coffee machine (!) Sammi will give a presentation on her research at lab meeting on October 19.

Hurricane Ritchie

Prof. Scott Ritchie visited Brian and the Fonseca Lab in mid August and left a “path of construction”! He spent a day in the salt marsh with Brian, Dina and Rick Lathrop (the PI of the NOAA funded salt marsh mosquito project) and back in the lab taught us how to collect and identify mosquito egg shells to assess marsh productivity. The next day, Dina took Scott and Brian to a town in Maryland developing a Citizen AcTS project where residents are deploying passive lethal oviposition traps (GATs) for urban Aedes control. The GATs were co-invented by Dr. Ritchie. Scott met the Mayor and marveled at the town’s lush gardens and tall trees, perfect to sustain large populations of Asian tiger mosquitoes.

To learn about the implications climate change has on public health in New Jersey, watch this video created by the NJ Climate Adaption Alliance. Starting around minute 4 Dr. Dina Fonseca talks about how climate change affects mosquitoes. Visit the Rutgers University Climate Institute’s website to learn more about how climate change affects NJ and beyond.

The Invasion Ecology Best Presentation Award goes to Rafael Valentin!

Congratulations Rafael on receiving the Invasion Ecology Best Presentation Award at the Ecological Society of America annual meeting. This year’s meeting was held in Portland, Oregon and focused on “linking biodiversity, material cycling and ecosystem services in a changing world,” as explained in the meeting’s theme. Rafael’s talk was titled “Utility of eDNA as a surveillance framework in terrestrial systems” and was listed in the Genetics and Molecular Techniques session. Only one presentation was recognized per session and Rafael received a $250 check and will be acknowledged at the 2018 national meeting for his award.

Jim at the 18th Annual Lyme & Other Tick-Borne Diseases Conference!

Jim Occi will be delivering a lecture at the 18th Annual Lyme & Other Tick-Borne Dieases Conference: What Clinicians Need to Know about an Expanding Epidemic this weekend, September 23 – 24, 2017 at the Hilton Penns Landing, in Philadelphia, PA. Jim’s lecture is titled Tick-Borne Disease Ecology: New Jersey, A Mirocosm of the Northeastern US. To learn more, you can register for the event at the Lyme Disease Associations’s website.

Jim at the New Jersey Environmental Health Association Annual Symposium!

Jim Occi will be deliver a lecture titled “New Jersey Tick Problem” at the New Jersey Environmental Health Association (NJEHA) Annual Symposium at the Hilton Garden Inn Edison-Raritan Center this Thursday, September 21, 2017, between 8:30am – 4:15pm. If you would like to be enlightened, please visit the NJEHA website to register for the event.

Welcome to the Lab Agnesa!

Agnesa Redere

Agnesa with her dog Laima on the left, and her former foster dog Willow on the right

The Fonseca Lab would like to welcome Agnesa Redere as the newest member of our lab. Agnesa is a PhD student in the Department of Ecology & Evolution at Rutgers University. Her research interests focus on evaluating expected utility in three scenarios of ecological importance: epigenetics in changing environments, in proactive versus reactive mosquito control strategies in curtailing the spread of Zika virus, and inthe psychological concept of priming in changing environments. Agnesa uses mathematical modeling and simulations to generate understanding of these concepts.

At Rutgers University, Agnesa is a member of the Rutgers Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (RASTL), which allows her to meets with faculty members and administrators on a monthly basis to discuss higher education and the issues centered on undergraduate instruction. Also, she is an Assistant Head Teaching Assistant (AHTA) for General Biology courses that are offered at Rutgers University.

Prior to her graduate studies, in 2011 Agnesa received her Associates of Science degree in Biology from Sussex County Community College. After graduating, she traveled south to Rutgers University to continue her learning trajectory in the sciences and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering in 2014.

In her spare time, Agnesa trains people and on how to teach their dogs basic obedience. In addition, she also trains her own dog in sports such as nosework, tricks, obedience and agility. Agnesa is a member of the American Belgian Malinois Rescue where she fosters and places dogs who are in need of their forever homes.

Dr. Dina Fonseca’s career in the Princeton Magazine

DinaLabcropYou can read more about Dr. Fonseca, her early career, fears and successes and her discussion of the potential effects of climate change-driven sea level rise on salt marsh mosquitoes in the October 2016 issue of Princeton Magazine. Click on this link and then scroll to page 60-61.