New NSF supplements to expand data-driven tick-borne disease research

November 3, 2021

A multidisciplinary team based at the University of Idaho received two supplemental grants totaling $600,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to expand their work on tick-borne diseases. Their current NSF EPSCoR Track 2 program, TickBase, leverages big data to tackle the impacts of climate change on tick-borne diseases. The new grants will enable the team to build partnerships with Minority Serving Institutions in the United States.

Dr. Yan Lin, an environmental scientist at the University of New Mexico (UNM) will use one of the supplemental grants to study Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) with colleagues at UNM and the Navajo Nation. Their aim is to integrate big data-based modeling approaches with individual-level host spatio-temporal data to improve prediction of tick population and RMSF patterns and dynamics.

The second supplement will be used to recruit a postdoctoral follow from a Minority Serving Institution, who will work on big data curation and data science applications with U of I Assistant Professor Dr. Xiaogang (Marshall) Ma, Lead PI for the Track 2 program.

The TickBase project is scheduled to run through 2024. The participation of UNM and the new postdoctoral fellow will complement the expertise of the current team from three universities: U of I, University of Nevada, Reno, and Dartmouth College.