Anna Manges, a sophomore biology major and geology minor, was honored by the Pennsylvania Vector Control Association with the Outstanding Undergraduate Student Research Award.
Manges, a student in the Cook Honors College, was nominated for the award by biology faculty member Dr. Tom Simmons. Manges has been part of the Simmons' team of researchers examining blacklegged ticks (insects known to carry Lyme disease) and Lyme disease risks since her freshman year.
Scientists say that the blacklegged tick is the main vector (transmitter) of Lyme disease, an infectious illness that can cause fever, fatigue, headache, joint pain, neck stiffness, loss of ability to move one or both sides of the face, heart palpitations, and other medical complications. In the United States, Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease, surpassing mosquito-borne West Nile virus and Zika.
As part of the award, Manges will present her research: “Ticks in the Burgh: Acarological Lyme Disease Risk in the Pittsburgh Regional City Parks" today at the annual conference of the Pennsylvania Vector Control Association in Boalsburg.
Her research included collection of ticks at Pittsburgh's four regional city parks to determine the density and distribution of nymphs as well as the infection prevalence of the Lyme disease spirochete.
Manges, from Indiana, has been an active presenter on the team's blacklegged tick and Lyme disease research, and is the lead author of “First Record of
Aedes albopictus (Diptera: Culicidae) and Second Record of
Aedes japonicus (Diptera: Culicidae) Parasitized by Water Mites (Acari: Hydrachnidiae) in North America," which discusses
water mite parasitism of the Asian tiger mosquito and Asian bush mosquito. Simmons and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Vector Management scientist Mike Hutchinson are co-authors of the paper, which was published in the July issue of
Journal of Medical Entomology.
Manges and other student members also have presented on Lyme disease risks to local Girl Scouts and to the Friends of the Park organization. Work by Simmons, Manges and students Nate Peters and Emily Welsh were recently featured in an extensive article by PennLive about the current state affairs of tick and tick-borne disease research in Pennsylvania: “Ticks and Lyme disease: The problem no one's really doing anything about."
Manges recipient of the Samuel Mitrovich Scholarship for the Advancement of the Biological Sciences, won an award in the poster competition at the 2017 Women in Mathematics, Science, and Technology dean's list student,
Simmons and Manges are currently working on a manuscript about the research project for a professional journal.