Meet Our Team!

Kelly L. Bennett

Postdoctoral fellow
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

I am broadly interested in the evolution of disease vectors. My expertise lies in applying genomic technology to study how the a/biotic environment influences genomic variability across space and time within both natural and manipulated populations. I am interested in how this variability influences the capacity of vectors to transmit human pathogens.

Ari Whiteman, Ph. D. MSc., 

ORISE Fellow
Behavioral and Clinical Surveillance Branch
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

I am an epidemiologist with a broad set of research and program interests spanning public/global health. I am especially focused on assessing growing health risks in marginalized communities, utilizing methods from an interdisciplinary array of fields including geography, sociology, economics, urban studies, and ecology. In 2016, I was a short-term fellow on the Mosquito Team in Panama City, where I conducted my doctoral research on the socioeconomic determinants of mosquito-borne disease, identifying high risk of diseases such as Dengue, Chikungunya, and Zika in predominantly low-income communities. Outside of science, I am a big fan of baseball, wildlife, and live music!

Matthew J. Miller 

Research Collaborator
Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History 

                                                                                    I am the Curator of the Ornithology at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History and an assistant Professor at the Department of Biology, University of Oklahoma. I also study the ecology of emerging infectious disease. This interest arose from the fact that birds often move pathogens around landscapes. However, now our work in this field is broader, focusing on how we can leverage DNA sequencing technology and our expertise as field biologists to understand how pathogens (usually arboviruses) are distributed in space and time, especially in the tropics.

Gabriel Zorello Laporta Ph. D. 

Research Collaborator
Setor de Pós-graduação, Pesquisa e Inovação
Faculdade de Medicina do ABC 

I am a research biologist compromised in understanding the long-term effects of anthropogenic activities in the ecology and evolution of zoonotic infectious diseases within a multi-scale framework encompassing bio-social and physical processes in ecosystems, biomes and biosphere in order to improving sustainable human persistence in the planet.

Joel Z. Garcia 

Master student 
Programa Centroamericano de Maestría en Entomología, Universidad de Panamá 

Estoy interesado en estudiar los mutaciones que confieren resistencia fisiológica a los insecticidas utilizados para el control de los mosquitos Aedes. También investigo los patrones de flujo genético espacial en poblaciones de Aedes aegyptiAedes albopictusde Panamá. Mis áreas de interés son la entomología médica, la biología molecular, la salud pública, la epidemiología y microbiología clínica. 

Caio França Ph. D. 

Research collaborator 
Southern Nazarene University

My research focus is on the surveillance of mosquito-borne arboviruses with an emphasis on whole viral genome sequencing. I am interested in discovering evolutionary elements that could provide key information about the epidemiology, geographic distribution and spread of West Nile Virus. I am also currently investigating the spatial and temporal patterns of occurrence (e.g., presence or absence) of Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti mosquitoes to determine whether their presence is associated with particular environmental conditions in the surrounding landscape.

Rolando A Gittens, Ph. D. 

Research Collaborator
             Centro de Biodiversidad  y Descubrimiento de Drogas                     / Centro de Neurociencias

I am a Research Engineer at the Institute for Scientific Research and High Technology Services (INDICASAT AIP) in Panama, where I study biomaterials and stem cells for regenerative engineering, as well as applications of mass spectrometry for innovations in public health and tropical biodiversity. One of my specialties focuses on the role of the nanostructural and electrical properties of biomaterials in the processes of cellular differentiation for tissue regeneration, with extensive experience in nanostructural modifications of titanium implants to improve their osseointegration. 

Gilberto A. Eskildsen Tuñón, Ph. D. candidate 

Research scientist & Professor
University of Panama

I am a medical technologist with knowledge in biotechnology and expertise in public health and sexually transmitted human diseases. I am currently working on the transmission dynamic of emerging viral infections, including Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika, and also on the ecology of mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus) that vector these diseases among humans.

Jose Ricardo Rovira

Lab Technician 
Mosquito taxonomist

I am a taxonomist of insects, interested in the natural history, biology and ecology of Neotropical mosquitoes (Culicidae). I have plenty of expertise in sampling, processing and identifying both immature and adult stages of mosquito carriers of human diseases. I am particularly interested in the vector potential of major disease transmitters, including Anopheles albimanus, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus.