Student Internships - Summer 2021


Western Gulf Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Diseases

The following WGCVBD-affiliated summer student internships are currently available. The deadline to apply is March 26, 2021.


University of Arkansas-Monticello
and Arkansas Department of Health Location: Little Rock, Arkansas
Download application

Summer Internship Opportunity

Arkansas is home to several species of ticks. Arkansas also ranks among the top states in the United States for incidence for both Spotted Fever Rickettsias and Ehlichiosis. The distribution of these important zoonotic diseases overlaps with the distribution of the most common tick found attacking humans, companion animals, and wildlife in AR. The aggressive and ubiquitous Lone Star tick, Amblyomma americanum, dominates in most Arkansas landscapes and depending on habitat and season, tick population density is high. This tick transmits tularemia, STARI, and the agents responsible for ehrlichiosis. The American dog tick, Dermacentor variabilis, is another important vector in Arkansas, transmitting Rickettsia rickettsii and tularemia. There are also areas that support populations of Gulf Coast ticks, Amblyomma maculatum. The current extent of the distribution and density of other tick species and their associated pathogens is largely unknown.

The Western Gulf Center of Excellence for Vector-borne Diseases is seeking a summer intern to support surveillance of ticks and tick-borne pathogens using tick drags and tick traps in various locations in Arkansas focusing primarily on Southeast Arkansas. Ticks will be identified, pooled by species and location, and sent to a supporting lab for pathogen identification. These data will be incorporated into the larger Arkansas Department of Health database. The selected intern will work with faculty from the University of Arkansas - Monticello and Arkansas Department of Health personnel at ADH headquarters in Little Rock. The recipient will receive training on surveillance and identification of ticks, tick biology, applied epidemiology, education and outreach, structure and operation of the Arkansas Department of Health, and how vector data is incorporated and used by public health authorities at the local and state level.

This is an 11-week, paid internship that offers hands-on experience in vector-borne disease public health practice. The selected candidate will be compensated at $11/hr, plus a $700 monthly housing stipend.

Interested students can send a completed application and CV to Caroline Weldon (caweldon@utmb.edu) by March 26, 2021.


Western Gulf Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Diseases
and Texas Department of State Health Services
Public Health Region 4/5N Location: Tyler, Texas
Download application

Summer Internship Opportunity

The CDC Western Gulf of Excellence for Vector-Borne disease is seeking applications for a student intern to work on vector-borne disease surveillance at the Texas Department of State Health Services, Public Health region 4/5N in Tyler, TX. The purpose of the Vector-Borne Disease Monitoring and Prevention program is to collect vector ticks for the presence of zoonotic pathogens. The regional DSHS program also focuses on tick-borne diseases and coordinates tick trapping and collection efforts with several animal control facilities and veterinary clinics across the region and it is responsible for species identification in collaboration with Texas A&M entomology with testing performed at UTMB. This internship will provide students the opportunity to experience working in a public health department. Daily activities will include assisting with tick collection and identification, data interpretation, and data entry. Varied tick collection methods including: tick drags, tick flagging, Carbon dioxide traps, collection from animals, etc will be used.

The selected student will also have the opportunity, if desired, to participate in mosquito trapping and surveillance in collaboration with local health departments. Testing of these specimens will be through the Texas DSHS Arboviral laboratory in Austin, TX.

This is an 11-week, paid internship that offers hands-on experience in vector-borne disease public health practice. The selected candidate will be compensated at $11/hr, plus a $700 monthly housing stipend.

Interested students can send a completed application and CV to Caroline Weldon (caweldon@utmb.edu) by March 26, 2021.


New Mexico State University Location: New Mexico
Download application

Summer Internship Opportunity

Vesicular stomatitis (VS) is a vector-borne, zoonotic disease of livestock caused by an RNA virus (VSV). Over the last century, VSV has emerged into the US at approximately 8-10 year intervals. VSV incursions originate in endemic regions of southern Mexico, move through northern Mexico into western border States (e.g., NM, TX, AZ) and expand northward. The most recent VSV incursion started in 2019 and expanded in 2020, whether it will persist or die out in the US in 2021 is currently unknown. Our research integrates phylogeographic, epidemiological, and ecological studies of VSV to identify vector, host and environmental drivers responsible for the spread of VSV across its spatio-temporal domain. We are particularly interested in identifying key vectors and possible wildlife reservoir hosts of the virus. Ultimately, we seek to develop an "early warning sytem" for VSV emergence.

The Western Gulf Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Diseases is seeking an intern to assist in ongoing field- and lab-based studies of VSV transmission in New Mexico. The intern will participate in field collections of key vectors, particularly blackflies, across the state as well as molecular barcoding of these vectors, screening target vectors for VSV using molecular methods, and generation of environmental niche models to predict vector distributions.

The intern will gain experience in surveillance techniques including collection, processing, and identification of blackflies as well as molecular methods for blackfly identification and virus detection. The USDA ARS Grand Challenge project "Multi-scale Big Data-Model Integration for An Improved Predictive Disease Ecology: Vesicular Stomatitis as an Illustrative Example of a Grand Challenge" will be the major research focus and the intern will participate in regular project update meetings (likely virtual but conceivably in-person) with the team of project investigators; approximately 5% of the intern's time will be dedicated to such meetings. Additionally, the intern may assist in exchanging relevant data with the Urban Biology Division of the City of Albuquerque Integrated Pest Management and the NM Department of Health (2-4% of the intern's time). The selected candidate will also learn basic data analysis and possibly modeling methods, depending on interest. The intern will work within a larger team that encompasses researchers from NMSU, the USDA and various public health organizations in Mexico.

Interested students can send a completed application and CV to Caroline Weldon (caweldon@utmb.edu) by March 26, 2021.


Oklahoma City County Health Department
and Oklahoma State University Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Download application

Summer Internship Opportunity

Tick-borne disease is an important issue in the southern Great Plains. In Oklahoma, basic knowledge is known regarding distribution of tick species and some of the major tick-transmitted pathogens that cause disease in humans and animals. However, there is a gap in the knowledge regarding tick and tick-borne pathogen risk in landscapes undergoing significant changes around urban areas.

The Western Gulf Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Diseases is seeking an intern to learn about public health in an actively engaged setting, get involved in tick-borne education initiatives, visit various stakeholders engaged in teaching and coordinating activities as well as learning about the organization of local to state public health work ("community of practice"). The selected intern will be to exposed to the depth of public health and how it works to engage in the health of populations in an urban setting.

The second portion of the internship will take place with Oklahoma State and Oklahoma University under specific activities involving bi-weekly tick surveillance of a newly developed park (Scissortail) as well as the River Trail system in downtown OKC. The intern will gain experience in surveillance techniques including collection, processing, and identification of ticks. The intern will learn how data derived from routine vector surveillance factors into local and national aspects of public health.

The selected candidate will gain experience in practical field-based skills, some data management skills, and a broader idea of how it fits into public health at a local and national level.

This is an 11-week, paid internship that offers hands-on experience in vector-borne disease public health practice. The selected candidate will be compensated at $11/hr, plus a $700 monthly housing stipend.

Interested students can send a completed application and CV to Caroline Weldon (caweldon@utmb.edu) by March 26, 2021.


Western Gulf Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Diseases
and Texas Department of State Health Services Location: Austin, Texas
Download application

Summer Internship Opportunity

The CDC Western Gulf Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Disease is seeking applications for a student intern to work at the Arborvirus-Entomology Laboratory at the Texas Department of State Health Services in Austin, Tx.

The primary objective of the Arbovirus-Entomology Laboratory is to coordinate mosquito surveillance efforts throughout Texas in order to detect the presence of arboviruses in mosquito populations prior to the development of human disease. Mosquito specimens are collected by various city and county health departments and submitted to the Laboratory for species identification and arbovirus testing. Testing is conducted using multiplex real-time RT-PCR assays, which target human pathogens of public health importance in Texas: West Nile, St. Louis encephalitis, Eastern and Western equine encephalitis, Zika, chikungunya, and dengue viruses. In addition to molecular testing, cell culture-based surveillance testing is conducted on a proportion (~20%) of submitted mosquitoes in order to screen for newly emerging arboviruses. When an arbovirus-positive mosquito pool is detected, laboratory personnel notify the agency that submitted the specimens so that appropriate mosquito control measures can be initiated based on the virus detected. In addition, the Arbovirus-Entomology Laboratory provides insecticide resistance testing services to local jurisdictions that are experiencing mosquito control failure.

This internship will provide students the opportunity to experience working in a state public health laboratory. Daily activities will include assisting with mosquito check-in, data entry, mosquito identification, molecular testing, mosquito colony maintenance, and insecticide resistance testing. Students will gain laboratory and epidemiology experience.

This is an 11-week, paid internship that offers hands-on experience in vector-borne disease public health practice. The selected candidate will be compensated at $11/hr, plus a $700 monthly housing stipend.

Interested students can send a completed application and CV to Caroline Weldon (caweldon@utmb.edu) by March 26, 2021.