The Center for Vector-borne and Zoonotic Diseases

Graduate Student Fellowships

Over the past decade there was a gradual erosion of graduate student education and training support, putting UTMB investigators at a disadvantage of recruiting and training talented trainees in vector-borne and zoonotic diseases. The purpose of this program is to establish graduate student fellowships for the training and development of graduate trainees interested in vector-borne and zoonotic diseases. We are sanguine that this Fellowship program will establish a strong foundation for training and mentorship for the next generation of investigators and importantly promote and enhance UTMB’s role and reputation as a national and global leader in vector-borne and zoonotic diseases.  

For the year 2022, The Center for Vector-borne and Zoonotic Diseases was pleased to grant fellowships to Divya Mirchandani and Nicholas Pittner. We are excited to have them on board!

Divya Mirchandani

Divya is a second year PhD student in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at UTMB. Prior to starting with graduate school, Divya acquired her master’s degree in biotechnology from Florida Institute of Technology and had been working as a biocontainment research associate in the World Reference Center for Emerging Viruses and Arboviruses at UTMB. Divya is interested in studying infectious diseases, specifically arthropod-borne viruses. Her current research focuses on cross-protection between flaviviruses, specifically the effect of pre-existing dengue virus immunity against yellow fever virus infection, and its impact on transmission via mosquitoes.

Nicholas Pittner

Nick is a Presidential Scholar and second-year student in the Human Pathophysiology and Translational Medicine Program at UTMB. His research focuses on the tick-borne pathogen, Ehrlichia chaffeensis, in the laboratory of Dr. Jere McBride. Specifically, Nick is investigating how the TRP120 effector protein of Ehrlichia chaffeensis mimics human ligands to hijack host signaling pathways.

The Center as part of UTMB Health strives to provide equal opportunity without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, genetic information or veteran status.