USU biologist using innovative research to track mosquitos

From the Cache Valley Daily
March 17, 2021

LOGAN —  While most people consider mosquitos an annoying pest, Utah State University Assistant Biology Professor Norah Saarman wanted to examine how they can spread infectious diseases.

“Our goal was to use images from space to see if we could predict how distant genetic mosquitos were or are across the landscape,” Saarman said. “What’s new about this is that we combined several approaches, one of those is called machine learning and it’s a really flexible way to ask if you can predict data.”

Saarman was also working to study the genetic connectivity of Aedes aegypti, an invasive species to North America that’s become widespread in the United States.

With Evlyn Pless of the University of California, Davis and Jeffrey Powell, Andalgisa Caccone and Giuseppe Amatulli of Yale University, Saarman published findings from a machine-learning approach to mapping landscape connectivity in the February 22, 2021 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The team’s research was also supported by the National Institutes of Health.

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