Assistant professor Karo Omodior’s research focuses broadly on the science of vector-borne disease risk assessment and decision-making. This extends to include tick- and mosquito-borne disease hazard identification; risk analysis, evaluation and control; and innovations for preventing the transmission of tick- and mosquito-borne emerging infectious diseases. To adequately assess tick-borne disease risk at the level of individual residences and intentionally designed public recreational spaces, Omodior conducts ecologic, entomologic and human lifestyle studies. Projects currently ongoing in this research domain include active and passive surveillance of ticks and tick-borne microbes of public health importance in peri-domestic areas; psycho-social and ecological risk mapping of human tick exposure; implementation of evidence-based tick-borne disease risk-reduction interventions; and development of a real-time automated tick classifier application using machine learning.
Areas of Expertise
Ticks and tick-borne disease ecology; emerging tick-borne diseases risk analysis, risk evaluation and risk control; the role of personal protective behavior in tick- and mosquito-borne infectious disease risk-reduction; spatial statistics and geographic information sciences in public health.
Research translation: Heavy tick infestation is capable of degrading the recreational value of parks, campgrounds and other natural areas, can add significant financial burden to homeowners, and may also impact the willingness of home owners to use their own yards for outdoor recreation or for gardens during tick peak activity periods. In rural and suburban neighborhoods where private residential areas constitute the main recreational and gardening spaces, this may have huge implications in the prevention of obesity and overweight along with healthy eating. Outcomes of tick surveillance from Omodior’s research can be used to monitor the spread of new ticks to new geographic locations and complex ecological changes that are reflected in tick microbiota, and to increase awareness of integrated tick control practices at private residential and public recreational areas. This is expected to lead to landscape practices and the adoption of design features that are conducive to public health.