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Dr. Diana Ortiz, Dr. Tuesdae Stainbrook '91 & Erin Hassett '17 Present Research at ASTMH Conference

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Posted on Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Dr. Diana Ortiz, assistant professor of biology, and Westminster alumni Erin Hassett ’17 and Dr. Tuesdae Stainbrook ’91 presented a research poster at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) in Baltimore, MD earlier this November. The group presented their research on clinical and demographic characteristics of human Lyme disease in cases in Western PA.

“This study was conceived after Erin completed my epidemiology course (BIO 467) and wanted to expand on her research experience in epidemiology through an independent study project," said Ortiz. "Right around that time, Dr. Stainbrook gave a presentation for the biology program on her clinical work in infectious diseases." 

After discussing their common interest in Lyme disease, Ortiz, Hassett and Stainbrook teamed up to develop an epidemiological study to examine the clinical and demographic characteristics of human Lyme disease cases in Western Pennsylvania. During the study, Hassett was able to access electronic medical records, collect, and analyze epidemiological data for 109 patients. The success of her study resulted in a poster presentation at ASTMH, an international conference on infectious diseases.

In addition, Hassett presented a second research poster at ASTMH as a result of her summer internship at the Tennessee State Laboratory in Nashville. She was involved in both laboratory and field studies examining the distribution of container breeding mosquitoes and disease transmission risk in Tennessee. She was invited to continue her work in Tennessee for the next few months before attending graduate school in the fall.

“Successful collaborations and valuable internship experiences are great examples of the high-quality undergraduate research that Westminster students are capable of conducting. It also shows the impact that our alumni can have on their career paths. I am very proud of Erin’s work and persistence, and also very excited for her future contributions to public health,” said Ortiz.