Dr. Marilyn O'Hara Ruiz
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Veterinary Medicine
Department of Pathobiology
Marilyn O’Hara Ruiz seeks to understand the causes of differences in health and well-being across time and at different places. Marilyn is leading MCE-VBD’s efforts to connect sources of information about mosquito and tick abundance from across the upper Midwest. Right now, multiple agencies keep their own records in their own way, and it’s hard for anyone to get a complete picture across the region of which vectors occur where. Having a comprehensive, dynamic picture of this will be particularly important as climate change causes problem species of pests to expand their range. Marilyn and her group use maps, trapping of pests, weather information, information about human land use, and many other kinds of data to identify, explain, and predict patterns in the occurrence of ticks and mosquitoes, the pathogens they carry, and the human diseases those pathogens cause. As her models get refined, she hopes they will allow public health officials across the Midwest to focus both outreach to the public and control measures like pesticide spraying in ways that could prevent disease.