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Kacey Ernst PhD, MPH

Kacey  Ernst PhD, MPH

Department Chair & Professor, Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Epidemiology and Biostatistics Department

1295 N. Martin
Drachman Hall A246
PO Box: 245211
Tucson AZ 85724
(520) 626-7374


Kacey C. Ernst, PhD MPH joined the faculty in 2008 as an infectious disease epidemiologist.  Her primary projects examine the environmental determinants of vector-borne disease transmission and control; primarily dengue and malaria.  Current research projects include an examination of insecticide treated bednet use in western Kenya. Comparisons between determinants of use and effectiveness in highland and lowland areas are underway.  She is also working with investigators in entomology to examine the role of Ae. aegypti population dynamics in the potential expansion of dengue from northern Mexico to southern Arizona under climate change scenarios.

Locally, Dr. Ernst takes an active role in working with the local health departments to examine questions related to vaccine preventable diseases. Her work seeks to understand the reasons behind increasing vaccination exemption rates in Arizona and the development of programs to increase vaccination uptake.


2006 - PhD Epidemiology - University of Michigan

2001 - MPH Epidemiology - University of Michigan

1997 - B.A. Chemistry/ Biology - Lawrence University


  1. Donner A, Belemvire A, Johns B, Mangam K, Fiekowsky E, Gunn J, Hayden M, Ernst KC (2017). Equal Opportunity, Equal Work: Increasing Women’s Participation in the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative Africa Indoor Residual Spraying Project. Global Health: Science and Practice Dec 2017, GHSP-D-17-00189;
  2. Lwin, M. O., Jayasundar, K., Sheldenkar, A., Wijayamuni, R., Wimalaratne, P., Ernst, K. C., & Foo, S. (2017). Lessons From the Implementation of Mo-Buzz, a Mobile Pandemic Surveillance System for Dengue. JMIR Public Health and Surveillance, 3(4), e65.
  3. Schmidt, C., Phippard, A., Olsen, J. M., Wirt, K., Rivera, A., Crawley, A., … Ernst, K. Kidenga: Public engagement for detection and prevention of Aedes-borne viral diseases. Online Journal of Public Health Informatics, 9(1), e111.  
  4. Reyes-Castro P, Harris R, Brown H, Christopherson G, Ernst K . Spatio-temporal and neighborhood characteristics of two dengue outbreaks in two arid cities of Mexico, Acta Tropica, Volume 167, Pages 1-230
  5. Ernst KC, Erly S, Adusei C, Bell  Melanie, Kessie  David, Biritwum-Nyarko  Alberta, Ehiri  John. Reported bed net ownership and use in social contacts is associated with uptake of bed nets for malaria prevention in pregnant women in Ghana. Malaria Journal.
  6. Ernst KC, Walker KR, Reyes-Castro P, Joy T, Castro-Luque L, Diaz-Caravantes R, Gameros M, Haenchen S, Hayden M, Monaghan A, Riehle, MR. Aedes aegypti (Diptera: Culicidae) Longevity and Differential Emergence of Dengue Fever in Two Cities in Sonora, Mexico. J Med Entomol (2017) 54 (1): 204-211.
  7. Monaghan AJ, Morin CW, Steinhoff DF, Wilhelmi O, Hayden M, Quattrochi DA, Reiskind M, Lloyd AL, Smith K, Schmidt CA, Scalf PE, Ernst K. On the Seasonal Occurrence and Abundance of the Zika Virus Vector Mosquito Aedes Aegypti in the Contiguous United States. PLOS Currents Outbreaks. 2016 Mar 16 . Edition 1. doi: 10.1371/currents.outbreaks.50dfc7f46798675fc63e7d7da563da76.
  8. Ernst KC, Hayden MH, Olsen H, Cavanaugh JL, Ruberto I, Agawo M, Munga S. Comparing ownership and use of bed nets at two sites with differential malaria transmission in western Kenya. Malar J. 2016 Apr 14;15(1):217. 
  9. Monaghan, A.J., Sampson, D.F. Steinhoff, K.C. Ernst, K.L. Ebi, B. Jones, and M.H. Hayden, 2015: The potential impacts of 21st century climatic and population changes on human exposure to the virus vector mosquito Aedes aegypti. Climatic Change, (accepted). 
  10. Haenchen, S.; Hayden, M.; Dickinson, K.; Walker, K.; Jacobs, E.; Brown, H.; Gunn, J.; Kohler, L.; Ernst, K.C., Mosquito avoidance practices and knowledge of arboviral diseases in cities with differing recent history of disease. 2016. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. 95(4):945-953.
  11. Dickinson KL, Hayden MH, Haenchen S, Monaghan AJ, Walker KR., Ernst KC. 2016. Willingness to Pay for Mosquito Control in Key West, Florida and Tucson, Arizona.Am J Trop Med Hyg.94(4):775-9. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.15-0666. Epub 2016 Feb 22.
  12. Morin, C.W., A.J. Monaghan, M.H. Hayden, R. Barrera, and K.C. Ernst, 2015: Meteorologically Driven Simulations of Dengue Epidemics in San Juan, PR. PLoS Negl. Trop. Dis., 9, e0004002.
  13. Hayden, M.H., Cavanaugh, J., Tittel, C., Butterworth, M., Haenchen, S., Dickinson, K., Monaghan, A., Ernst, K.C. “Post Outbreak Review: Dengue Preparedness and Response in Key West, Florida”. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (Accepted).  
  14. Arreleno-Gaves, C., Castro, L., Caravantes, R., Ernst, K.C., Hayden, M., Reyes-Castro, P., “Meanings and beliefs about the spread of dengue fever and its relationship prevention practices: a discourse with women in Hermosillo, Sonora.” Frontiers in Public Health. 3:3:142. 
  15. Ernst, K.C., Haenchen, S., Dickinson K., Doyle, M., Monaghan, A., Walker, K., Hayden, M. Community awareness and preliminary support of the controversial release of OX513A Ae. aegypti in Key West, FL. Emerging Infectious Disease 21(2):320-4.

Languages Spoken:


Research Synopsis

As an infectious disease epidemiologist, my research focuses on the nexus of humans, disease vectors, and environment. My work spans from conducting field investigations to better understand the social and environmental determinants of current and future arboviral transmission to improving community capacity to respond to and control mosquito-borne diseases. I am particularly interested in working with interdisciplinary teams to develop short and long term forecasts under changing weather and climate conditions. Many of my projects also seek to understand community members’ willingness and investment in prevention and control strategies. This has ranged from identifying strategies to better engage women in vector control in Indonesia and Kenya, working with rural communities in Kenya to band promoters of bed net use, and developing a mobile community-based surveillance application, Kidenga. My work uses a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods. I also have a background in investigating why individuals choose to exempt their children from vaccination in Arizona specifically. I am part of the 2017 cohort of AAAS Leshner fellows for public engagement to translate science to motivate action in the public domain.

Curriculum Vitae: 

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