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Our current projects

The Eco-epidemiology lab led by Prof. Maria Diuk-Wasser has been conducting several tick-focused research projects in NYC since 2017. Our field work has focused primarily on Staten Island, the most affected borough.

Image of a deer from a camera trap
Islands and Corridors: The urban disease landscape

Through tracking deer and mice movement, sampling tick and mice in parks and screening for pathogens, this project will determine how tick-borne diseases, like Lyme disease, can emerge and persist on Staten Island.

Project lead: Meredith VanAcker, MS, PhD Candidate

A cat walking through leaf litter in a park
A game of cat and mouse

This project examines the role of urban feral cats in the Lyme disease system as potential predators of the main host of the disease, the white-footed mouse.

Project lead: Laura Plimpton, MS Candidate

The longhorned tick
Raccoons, possums and more

From our research last year we discovered that the newly invasive Asian longhorned tick feeds on deer but not on mice. We aim  to determine if it feeds on medium-sized mammals (raccoons, opossums, skunks, etc.) that could infect them.

Project lead: Danielle Tufts, PhD, Postdoctoral Associate

Image of park with dense vegetation
Litter bugs

This project examines how the depth and quality of the leaf litter in parks and other forest characteristics affect the number of mice, the number of ticks, and the role that leaves and plants play in the spread of Lyme disease.  

Project lead: Daniel Mathisson, MA Candidate

People in the park
People, parks and ticks

The goal of this project is to evaluate the risk of tick exposure in the most frequently used areas in parks, how the park visitors protect themselves from tick bites and what we can do to increase the protection from ticks  

Project lead: Erin Hasset, MS Candidate (Cornell Univ.)

Member of the research team sampling ticks in a yard
Tick encounters: understanding people’s risk

During house visits, we will evaluate the risk in the yards by sampling for ticks and conducting a survey to learn about protective measures people undertake or are willing to implement. This data will be combined with the data collected in parks and The Tick App to understand how can we better prevent tick exposure and provide custom-made solutions  for Staten Islanders.

Project lead: Pilar Fernandez, PhD, Postdoctoral Associate

The Tick App logo
The Tick App

The main goal of this project is to study human behavior, tick exposure and the risk of Lyme disease using a citizen science approach via a smartphone application, The Tick App. The Tick App uses a combination of surveys and geolocation technology to uncover how people's day-to-day activities play a role in their risk for tick-borne diseases.

Project lead: Pilar Fernandez, PhD, Postdoctoral Associate

Latest News

March 04, 2020

Invitation to group discussion about our tick research on Staten Island

As a resident of this community, we would like to invite you to discuss with us the risk of tick exposure in the area, as well as your personal experiences with ticks and prevention methods you undertake to reduce risks. We will also discuss our research findings to date and our future plans. We look forward to any feedback you can provide.

For this purpose, we are holding a 1-hour meeting scheduled at different convenient locations and times on Staten Island:

February 10, 2020

We are looking for summer research assistants!!

We have multiple paid research assistant positions for the 2020 summer field season to work on one of these projects:

Human risk: We will evaluate the human exposure to ticks and the risk of Lyme disease in yards close to parks and green spaces.

Ecology of ticks in natural areas: We will examine the natural transmission cycle of the Lyme disease and the ecology of the ticks species found in parks across Staten Island

November 08, 2019

NYC ticks has been funded by NSF!

Our research project on Staten Island, NY about urban ticks and the risk of Lyme disease has been awarded an research grant by the National Science Foundation's Dynamics of Integrated Socio-Environmental Systems (CNH2) programme. These funds will allow us to continue and expand our efforts. CNH2 supports research that advances a basic scientific understanding of integrated socio-environmental systems and the complex interactions within and among the environmental and human components of these systems.