Research project: Insect-endosymbiotic spiroplasmas of anopheline mosquitoes and their effects on host vectorial capacity
Hellen is an ARPPIS PhD Scholar supervised by Dr Jeremy Herren (icipe) and Prof. Lizette Koekemoer (University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa). Hellen’s research interests include pathogen-vector-host interactions, and the use of molecular, microbiological and bioinformatics tools to understand the underlying mechanisms of vector responses in highly pathogenic, endemic environments. She is currently researching on endosymbiotic bacteria, specifically spiroplasmas that are associated with anopheline mosquitoes, which are thought to have some impact on vector biology and transmission of pathogens. This research will contribute knowledge on the use of naturally occurring endosymbiotic microbes to manage vector-borne diseases of Africa such as malaria by reducing vector abundance or preventing transmission of pathogens by the vectors. Hellen is registered for a PhD at the University of the Witwatersrand and is supported by a scholarship from DAAD.
Hellen holds a BSc in Biochemistry from Makerere University, Uganda and a MSc in Bioinformatics from the University of Nairobi, Kenya. She is a student member of the International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB).