The blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis) first appeared in Maine during the 1980s, and its geographic range expansion has been associated with a concomitant increase in the prevalence of tick-borne pathogens throughout the state. Maine has experienced a five-fold increase in incidence of Lyme disease in humans over the past decade, and multiple emerging tick-borne diseases also are on the rise, including human babesiosis, human granulocytic anaplasmosis and Powassan virus.

This talk at 5 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 19 will explore the ecological and social drivers of the spread of the blacklegged tick and the pathogens it transmits, drawing upon ongoing, collaborative research at the University of Maine, and discuss management strategies to inhibit tick-borne disease transmission among wildlife and humans.

Dr. Allison Gardner is a medical entomologist. Her research focuses on the ecology of infectious diseases of humans and wildlife that are transmitted by arthropod vectors, such as mosquitoes or ticks. Dr. Gardner’s current projects include studying the invasion of the blacklegged tick and Lyme disease in Maine, investigating the ecology of a mosquito vector for Zika virus in the Caribbean, and understanding the interactions between risk of exposure to vector-borne disease and economic interests (e.g., timber harvesting, tourism) at local and international spatial scales. She completed her Ph.D. in entomology, M.S. in statistics, and M.S. in veterinary pathobiology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Currently, Dr. Gardner is an assistant professor in the School of Biology and Ecology and a cooperating faculty member in the Ecology and Environmental Sciences program, the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions, the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center and the Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering at the University of Maine.

Our live online Zoom presentations will be recorded and uploaded for those who cannot make the live session. Please note, when Zoom records, it captures the audience as well as the presenter. If you do not wish to be recorded, please turn off your video camera. Audio will still be available. 

MDI Science Cafés are offered in fulfillment of the MDI Biological Laboratory’s mission to promote scientific literacy and increase public engagement with science. The popular events offer a chance to hear directly from speakers about trends in science. We ask attendees to please pre-register online so that we can send you the link to the online presentation — https://mdibl.org/event/mdi-science-2020-09-28/.