Paid Technicians Studying the Ecology of Emerging Disease

Technicians will receive a stipend of $5280 for 12 weeks of full-time work

Michigan State University is a member of the Centers for Disease Control-funded Midwest Center of Excellence for Vector-borne Disease, and one of the goals of this center is to build capacity in surveillance and research of vector and vector-borne pathogen biology, ecology, management, and control. Toward that end, Michigan State University, seeks to hire 8 enthusiastic, energetic, and intrepid technicians who have a passion for disease ecology, medical entomology, public health surveillance, and/or emerging infectious diseases to help monitor the invasion of the blacklegged tick, the vector of Lyme disease, across the state of Michigan. These positions, depending on the weather, roughly comprise 70% field work and 30% lab work.

Technicians will be supervised by Dr. Jean Tsao and her graduate students. They also will have opportunities to interact with epidemiological staff at Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).

Purpose

Lyme disease and other tick borne diseases are on the rise in North America due to many ecological changes driving the spread of the blacklegged tick. Michigan is a classic example, where the blacklegged tick has been emerging across the landscape, but where many citizens as well as medical professionals are unaware of the rapidly changing geographic risk of disease. We have the rare opportunity to conduct active surveillance to monitor the spread of the Lyme disease tick and to identify new areas into which the tick is establishing. The technicians will form a team that will conduct field surveillance throughout Michigan; data will be used directly to update the Michigan Lyme Disease risk map and to use in
models for predicting the spread of disease risk. See this news article describing similar work last year.

Duties & Responsibilities

~70% field work and ~ 30% lab work

• To conduct field surveillance at multiple public lands (state and national parks and forests) for questing ticks (by drag cloth method).
• Multi-night/week-long overnight trips will be required to conduct field surveillance across the northern Lower and Upper Peninsulas.
• University-owned vehicles and/or personal vehicles may be used for transportation. If a personal vehicle is used, mileage will be reimbursed.
• Overnight accommodations will comprise a mixture of camping, motels/hotels depending on the location and weather, but technicians should be prepared to camp when possible.
• Identify collected vectors and maintain shared databases of field collections.
• Assist with laboratory analysis, which will require Environmental Health and Safety training.
• Other duties and responsibilities as assigned.

Qualifications/Requirements

Education: Minimum of 48 college-level credits completed is preferred.


Experience: No experience necessary, but an interest in disease ecology, medical entomology and/or public health is preferred.

Important knowledge, skills, and abilities:
• Ability to work in harsh weather conditions in remote locations which may include, but not limited to,
uneven terrain, lack of phone connectivity, exposure to hot/humid temperatures, mosquitoes/ticks,
and potentially poisonous plants.
• Ability to communicate and work effectively with others.
• Ability to maintain a positive, professional attitude.
• Ability to work independently.
• Ability to work weekends as needed
• Ability to pay attention to detail and have excellent eyesight.
• Ability to drive a vehicle in the state of Michigan.
• Ability to read and use a map.
• Ability to use Microsoft Office.

Technicians Should Expect

• To obtain instruction on the ecology, epidemiology, and public health measures of Lyme and several
other tick-borne diseases in the north-central and northeastern U.S.
• To obtain guidance and instruction on field vector surveillance activities and how these data are used
by public health and researchers to prevent disease.
• To obtain instruction on vector identification and learn about the biology of ticks.
• To participate in lab meetings and conference calls as the field schedule permits and learn more about
other on-going research and surveillance activities at MSU and other participating MCE institutions.
• To obtain instruction on laboratory techniques relevant to vector-borne disease surveillance (e.g.,
DNA extraction, PCR).
• To obtain travel support for field efforts (meals are not included).
• To use their own personal computer.
• To work, travel, and lodge with one other person.
• To work long hours due to the nature of field work.

Apply

For more information about these positions, please contact Dr. Jean Tsao (tsao@msu.edu). To apply, please email Dr. Tsao with a cover letter that includes a brief statement of interest, the names and contact information for two references, as well your CV/resume. Please also indicate your earliest start date. Applications will be considered until positions are filled.