Dr. Kacey Ernst, infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, has been selected by the American Association for the Advancement of Science Public Engagement Fellowship.
The importance of communicating science to the public—particularly the risk and uncertainty of mosquito-borne emerging infectious diseases—has never been more urgent.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has selected Kacey Ernst, PhD, MPH, associate professor of epidemiology in the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, as a 2017-2018 Public Engagement Fellow. Together with 14 other researchers in the field of infectious disease, Dr. Ernst will attend the Alan I. Leshner Leadership Institute for Public Engagement with Science in June.
Dr. Ernst’s primary research interests are in determining how human-environment interactions alter risk of vector-borne disease transmission. She specifically focuses on questions surrounding the emergence of Aedes mosquito-borne viruses such as dengue and Zika in the U.S.-Mexico border region and the development and uptake of sustainable control strategies for malaria in western Kenya.
Recently, she partnered with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop Kidenga, a community-based surveillance mobile application that is intended to educate communities and provide early warning of pathogen emergence. She has presented to the public in a wide range of forums on her research and the impact of climate change on human health.
“I am honored to have been chosen as one of the 2017 AAAS Leshner Fellows. As infectious diseases emerge and re-emerge around the globe, it is critical that scientists, such as myself, are equipped with the tools to better communicate risk,” said Dr. Ernst.
“I am particularly interested in learning how to discuss uncertainty in a way that is meaningful and informative. Communities can play a significant role in preventing the spread of infectious diseases, but only if accurate information is available,” she noted.
The new AAAS Public Engagement Fellows will convene in June at AAAS headquarters in Washington, D.C., for a week of intensive public engagement and science communication training, networking and public engagement plan development. After the training, AAAS Public Engagement Fellows will return to their institutions with resources and connections to develop and implement public engagement activities, opportunities for training other scientists in their communities and increased capacity for public engagement leadership. AAAS staff will provide ongoing support and continuing professional development throughout their fellowship year.
The full list of 2017-2018 AAAS Public Engagement Fellows is here.