Technical University of Lisbon and Free University of Berlin from 1999 to 2009
Degree in Veterinary Medicine and PhD in Medical Entomology
I worked as a post-doc for the London School of Hygiene based in Ifakara in Tanzania.
I am a visiting scientist at KEMRI Wellcome Trust Program in Kilifi and a scientific collaborator at the Swiss Tropical Institute
Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute
Favourite thing to do in my job: I enjoy designing experiments and brainstorming with other scientists about better ways of testing an hypothesis. I like working outdoors catching mosquitoes in the villages or collecting larvae from fields and ponds. I also like rearing mosquitoes and doing experiments with them in the lab.
I am a medical entomologist, that means I am an expert on insects that transmit diseases
I have worked for 8 years in rural Tanzania and now in Kenya, trying to find new ways of reducing the contact between humans and malaria mosquitoes. I have investigated repellent lotions, repellent coils, repellent plants used by communities as well as sugar-baits to attract and kill mosquitoes. At the moment I am also working on new ways of finding out if a mosquito is infected with malaria or not using a new method called near infra-red spectroscopy. Basically I look at changes in the spectra from light that bounces off a mosquito and try to find a pattern. I am still trying to figure out if it works.
See a video on my work:
My Typical Day
I design experiments, analyse data, write up my results, prepare for presentations and apply for approvals.
On exciting days I get to go the field and do work with mosquitoes, I catch them using traps or baits. I also enjoy collecting larvae in rice fields or small puddles. I collect my samples and take them to the lab where I can sort them and analyze them.
I have also done some work in Scotland using malaria parasites in the lab. I reared them artificially using cell-culture models and then used these parasites to infect mosquitoes and do experiments with malaria-infected mosquitoes. This involves quite a lot of safety precautions because infecting mosquitoes can be risky if you don’t follow strict protocols.
In Tanzania I often worked inside a biodome where we could release mosquitoes inside a screen house and where they could not escape. We had fake houses inside the screen house and could observe how mosquitoes behaved in semi-natural conditions without putting any one at risk of getting malaria because all the mosquitoes used were reared in our own insectary and did not have malaria. Mosquitoes are not born with malaria, they must bite an infected person in order to become infected so if we rear larvae in the lab they will not be infected for sure.
What I'd do with the money
I would donate it to promote interest in science amongst Kenyan students
I would promote a science fair contest at a local school and would donate the money to the 3 best projects.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Energetic Patient Curious
What was your favourite subject at school?
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Many times (dont tell anyone)
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Imagine Dragons, Calvin Harris, Bruno Mars
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I used to sing and play guitar in a band and we travelled around europe.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Health, Peace and Love
Tell us a joke.
What did one bean say to the other? How you bean?
Experimental huts that we use to mimic houses in rural southern Tanzania.
A screened tunnel where we tested attractive and repellent distance of compounds to mosquitoes by releasing them at one end and recapturing them at different distances.
Feeding mosquitoes blood through an artificial membrane.
We gave out mosquito repellent bottles to communities to see if they can repel mosquitoes in the field.
A rice paddy with stagnated water where we commonly found malaria mosquito larvae.
A large screen house with experimental huts inside where we can release lab-reared disease-free mosquitoes and do experiments without being at risk of getting malaria. Mosquitoes are released into the screen house and then collected from the mosquito traps on the windows of the experimental huts (exit traps).
Some volunteers feeding mosquitoes on their arms.
Me (8 months pregnant) inside an experimental hut where I tested a bait which attracts mosquitoes to feed and then kills them.
A near-infrared spectrometer used for analysing mosquitoes. We can tell the mosquitoes age, species and maybe if its infected or not by analyzing the light in the near infrared region that it absorbs.