Academic Year 2019-2020
Institution University of Aberdeen


Phonetic spelling of name: LOO-see

Pronouns: she/her

School: School of Biological Sciences

Project: Spatio-temporal dynamics of plague vectors in Madagascar: using population genetics and landscape scale modelling to inform disease reduction strategies in the Malagasy Highlands

Supervisors: Dr Sandra Telfer and Dr Sarah Helyar

Undergraduate Education: MSci Marine Biology, University of Southampton

Postgraduate Education: N/A

Research: My research focuses on 2 flea species in Madagascar which are crucial to the persistence of plague on the Island. These fleas are: The Oriental Rat Flea, Xenopsylla cheopis and an endemic flea that lives in the Highlands: Synopsyllus fonquerniei. fonquerniei is my major focus as it is less studied and is very important in the wild plague cycle. I will also possibly work a little on Rattus rattus, the main Plague host in Madagascar.

The fieldwork I do and the methods I will use will depend on the direction of the project and what further samples are needed. Any fieldwork I do carry out will likely be in remote areas of the Malagasy Highlands, involving rodent trapping and flea sampling.

My project has 3 main focuses:

  • Ecology: This section will use data collected from trapping including rat abundance, climate data and other factors to analyse the ecology of the plague vectors and to understand the relative effects of different biotic and abiotic factors on flea abundance.
  • Population Genetics: This section will include a variety of genetic methods focussed on creating Microsatellite primers to study the population genetics of the endemic flea, Synopsyllus fonquerniei.
  • Landscape-Scale Modelling. This section will use individual-based modelling to look at population spread of the plague vectors. This will utilise landscape data as well as genetic data.