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2009 REU and REV Program Participant Profiles: Twyla "Zoey" Benally

Twyla Benally photo.

Degrees: BS Environmental Health, Colorado State University; MPH, University of New Mexico; DVM, Washington State University.
Hometown: Shiprock, NM and Pullman, WA
REU/REV Research Project: Modeling an Amblyomma americanum (Lone Star Tick) population for effective disease management

What is the purpose of your research?
The purpose of our research is to understand tick population numbers from season to season. After we understand the cycling of tick numbers, we can see how different interventions will change these numbers. The bottom line, however, is to decrease the tick population and to hopefully decrease the risk of disease for humans.

Tell us something about your field of study that we would be surprised to know.
A collaborative approach to projects and an experimental approach to learning result in a more balanced outcome with input from all group members. There is increased ownership and buy-in for the project from all team members.

What new experiences did you gain that have helped you today?
I learned quite a bit of information on Lone Star Ticks, Ehrlichiosis, White Tail Deer, and Tennessee. I have learned about developing a mathematical model for various biological processes. I might not have the skills to develop a model on my own, but in the future, I will consider collaborating with a mathematician on projects.

What were your favorite parts of the REU/REV program?
I really enjoyed interacting with the other participants. It was interesting working and living with students from different backgrounds. I also really enjoyed going out in the field to drag for ticks. I enjoyed sharing information on CO2 tick trapping with my team.

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From 2008 until early 2021, NIMBioS was supported by the National Science Foundation through NSF Award #DBI-1300426, with additional support from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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