Research Projects

Our research projects are divided into those examining the enzootic transmission cycle of tick-borne diseases and those assessing the determinants of human risk.

All the research projects taking place on Staten Island regarding ticks and tick-borne diseases.

We find three main species of ticks on Staten Island: the blacklegged tick, the lone star tick and the longhorned tick. The research projects divide into those regarding ticks and animals and those concerning people. In the projects concerning animals and ticks, we investigate how do ticks and other animals interact with each other and the environment, resulting in infected ticks in urban parks and people. Among those projects are: Island and corridors in the city, A game of cat and mouse, Raccoons, opossums and more, and Litter bugs. The projects regarding the risk to people include People, Parks and Ticks, Ticks at home and The Tick App. We investigate how do people encounter ticks, if it’s in the parks or the yard, and what can people do to protect themselves.

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

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, 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.)

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

Using a smartphone app, we are trying to determine where and how often people become exposed to ticks on Staten Island, while users can access tick ID services and more. The Tick App is a joint effort between partners at the NE-VBD (Diuk-Wasser lab at Columbia University) and the MW-VBD (University of Wisconsin-Madison).

Project lead: Pilar Fernandez, PhD, Postdoctoral Associate