From Immersive Education to Crane Rehabilitation, SVM Researchers Earn 2019 Global Health Grants

Three children test the waters of a mud puddle for mosquito larvae and pupae

Tackling everything from mosquitoes to antibiotic resistance, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Global Health Institute (GHI) recently awarded 30 grants and awards to faculty, staff, clinicians and students from across campus, including three recipients from the School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM).

One of the awardees, Lyric Bartholomay, an associate professor in pathobiological sciences at the SVM, hopes to empower youth in Ecuador to understand mosquitoes and advance community health.

Through a National Institutes of Health grant, Bartholomay, one of the directors of the Midwest Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Disease, helped develop “Mosquitoes and Me,” a program that teaches upper elementary and beginning middle school students to learn about mosquitoes with hopes that they will take their knowledge back to their families and communities. The methodology, which does not include lectures, is different, Bartholomay notes.

Three children test the waters of a mud puddle for mosquito larvae and pupae
Students in the community of Los Arguellos, built for families who lost everything in Ecuador’s earthquake, make new friends and learn about mosquitoes in the Mosquitos Y Yo program that received a 2019 GHI Seed Grant. (Photo: Walking Palms)

“Teachers work with kids in an immersive experience to develop their own understanding,” she says. “The (students) sort it out, and we try really hard not to answer their questions but encourage them to keep questioning.”

By discovering answers on their own, “kids own their knowledge in a totally different way and build interesting ideas,” Bartholomay adds. “That feels really great.”

Bartholomay and her team have developed more than 80 lessons about mosquito biology as part of a program with Iowa State University, working with children in low-resource settings in Des Moines. Two years ago, Walking Palms, a non-governmental organization in Ecuador, approached her to translate the lessons into Spanish for use in a country that’s been hard hit by hurricanes, Zika virus and dengue fever, both transmitted by mosquitoes.

Families, students and teachers have embraced the program. Bartholomay will use the GHI seed grant to formalize the collaboration, bring UW-Madison students to Ecuador to participate in Mosquitos Y Yo camps, help students in the country understand mosquitoes with culturally sensitive lessons, formalize relationships with Ecuador’s Ministry of Health and collect concrete data on how the project makes a difference in communities.

“Hopefully, we can make it bigger and better,” Bartholomay says.



Seed Grants (Read the abstracts)

  • “Mosquitoes Y Yo: Student Scientists in Ecuador,” Lyric Bartholomay, Department of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine
  • “Microbiome Analysis of Indigenous People in Colombia, South America,” Jorge Osorio, Department of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine

Faculty & Staff Travel Awards (Read the abstracts

  • “Effective Rehabilitation of a Distressed Species: Grey Crowned Cranes in Rwanda,” Barry Hartup, Department of Surgical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine

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