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Benton Summer Profile Series- Alyssa Mast ’21

By Brent Fujioka on September 24, 2018

Alyssa Mast, Class of 2021

Alyssa on the local TV program featuring the environmental health department’s research!

        This summer, Alyssa worked in the environmental health office at a health department in Michigan. There she was able to specifically track West Nile prevalence to inform the public of safe practices and track positive mosquitos and the spread of the virus throughout the summer. For the ten weeks she worked there, Alyssa and her department tested over 16,000 mosquitos and had more positives than the department had ever found before. This information and data collection “created a lot of media presence and public engagement with information about the virus.”

What inspired you to work with the environmental health office studying West Nile-carrying mosquitoes this summer?

I, ideally, want to do global health in the future. Given that Malaria and Zika virus are some of the most pressing diseases at the moment, learning about vector-borne diseases in the environmental health sense will give me a unique perspective once I am able to learn about it in a more clinical sense.

What is one lesson you feel you learned after this experience?

      Well, I learned a lot… The most influential thing, I think, was learning about how important the media presentation and teamwork is in getting an effective response. This summer, samples overwhelmed the resources the health department had access to and we had to work with a university to ensure we were getting the best results. Similarly, it was surprising to see how little the media portrayed and how targeted we had to be with our language to ensure our research wasn’t misrepresented or skewed in a way that could hurt the community.


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