Manore's Research: How Environment Affects Infectious Diseases

 

LANL Staff Scientist and NMC Affiliate Dr. Carrie A. Manore is researching how changes in the environment affect the risks for emerging infectious diseases, in particular zoonotic and vector-borne diseases. 

Manore, and her team, are creating a hierarchy of multi-scale, integrative models which incorporate nonlinear systems of differential equations, ecological networks, and agent-based models to provide a framework for understanding and mitigating the risk of emerging infectious diseases in a spatially heterogeneous environment.

Manore’s research focuses on a few emerging or potentially emerging infectious diseases in the United States, including West Nile virus, dengue, Rift Valley fever, hantavirus, Zika and chikungunya, with an emphasis on how human mobility, climate, and disturbance of the environment modify risk. Her team extended their work to Zika modeling once the emerging outbreak in the Americas started, publishing a paper on Zika risk in the Eastern United States and estimating the true outbreak sizes in several countries in South and Central America.

Manore is now working with collaborators on extending the true outbreak size estimates to more countries and estimating the number of children with birth defects as a result of the Zika outbreak. Manore’s team is also collaborating with LANL and Tulane to use remote sensing, internet, and socio-economic data to predict and forecast risk in Brazil of dengue, chikungunya, and Zika at the municipality level.

This research aims to inform how emerging disease risk can be mitigated by sustainable management of the environment, including better planning of urban and agricultural expansion, more effective and efficient public health strategies such as use of new technology, increased surveillance and data sharing, and informed choices about human manipulation of the environment and the importance of biodiversity. The ultimate goal is to better inform policy makers about these new and emerging risks.

This work is funded by an award from the NSF Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability Fellows (SEES Fellows Program). 

Radial transport of radiation belt electrons in kinetic field-line resonances

August 2017, Geophysical Research Letters

C. C. Chaston, J. W. Bonnell, J. R. Wygant, G. D. Reeves, D. N. Baker, D. B. Melrose, Iver H. Cairns

A representative case study from the Van Allen Probes during a geomagnetic storm recovery phase reveals enhanced electron fluxes at intermediate pitch angles over energies from ~100 keV to 5 MeV coincident with broadband low-frequency electromagnetic waves.

The statistical properties of these waves are used to build a model for radial diffusion via drift-bounce resonances in kinetic Alfvén eigenmodes/kinetic field-line resonances. Estimated diffusion coefficients indicate timescales for radial transport on the order of hours in storm time events at energies from <100 keV to MeVs over equatorial pitch angles from the edge of the loss cone to nearly perpendicular to the geomagnetic field.

The correlation of kinetic resonances with electron depletions and enhancements during storm main phase and recovery, and the rapid diffusion these waves drive, suggests that they may modulate the outer radiation belt.

To summarize, these researchers have found a non-linear interaction that is extremely efficient at transporting electrons radially (inward or outward). Researchers have looked at these “drift-bounce resonances” before, but by looking at the electric field in the electron’s frame of reference, it has been found that the interaction is much stronger than anyone previously thought.

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Student Research on Predicting Dengue Fever Outbreaks

New Mexico Consortium (NMC) and Los Alamos National Lab (LANL) student Jessica Conrad attended the ICMA VI: 6th International Conference on Mathematical Modeling and Analysis of Populations in Biological Systems where she gave a presentation titled, “Using Satellite Imagery and Internet Data for Dengue Surveillance in Brazil”. The conference took place October 20 – 22, 2017 at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona.

Dengue fever is important to study due to cases of the disease increasing in Latin America in the last 15 years. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine commercially available yet for dengue fever outside of Mexico, and there are not specific medications people can take to treat dengue. The most important thing people can do is to try to prevent the disease from breaking out in the first place, and control it when it does break out.

Conrad’s research includes a predictive risk analysis to forecast dengue dynamics in Brazil, and explore whether remote sensing data can improve disease forecasting. As this is a mosquito-borne disease, her research uses predictive data streams such as previous cases, weather, precipitation, vegetation, land use, and remote sensing data.

Successful forecasting of dengue fever in Brazil can lead to more successful preemptive vector control programs. Conrad’s research is contributing to the successful prediction of where dengue may break out which will help to reduce dengue cases each year.
 
Conrad is an NSF SEES Fellow and is sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Conrad's collaborators include Carrie Manore, Nick Generous, Sara Del Valle, Geoffrey Fairchild, Amanda Ziemann, Nidhi Parikh (LANL) and Amir Siraj (Notre Dame) as well as Descartes Labs.

Wouter Dekens Researches Matter-Antimatter Asymmetry

After completing his PhD in Physics at the University of Groningen in The Netherlands, Wouter Dekens has spent the last two years working for Los Alamos National Lab (LANL) and the New Mexico Consortium (NMC) funded by a grant from the NWO (the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research).

 

His research project “A Window on the Universal Matter-Antimatter Asymmetry” is an attempt to understand the theories we currently have to try to explain the elementary particles all around us. The Big Bang should have created equal amounts of matter and antimatter in the early universe. However, all the life forms and objects around us are created almost entirely of matter. Curiously, there is not much antimatter to be found. What happened to tip the balance? In physics, one of the greatest challenges is to figure out what happened to the antimatter, or why we see an asymmetry between matter and antimatter.

Currently, the most successful theory describing elementary particles is still unable to explain this matter-antimatter asymmetry. Numerous theories that try to explain the matter-antimatter imbalance, and postulate new interactions, have been put forward.

To get a clearer picture, Physicists are looking for hints by studying the subtle differences in the behavior of matter and antimatter particles created in high-energy proton collisions at the Large Hadron Collider.

The first step of Dekens' project was to describe such new interactions in a model-independent way. The resulting framework was then employed to constrain non-standard interactions by using results from cutting-edge experiments, ranging from high-precision measurements at low energies to the ultra-high-energy proton collisions at the Large Hadron Collider.

The limits that were derived in this way allow one to determine which of the theories that attempt to explain the matter-antimatter asymmetry in the universe are still consistent with experimental data. This brings us one step closer to understanding which of the new interactions are responsible for the matter-antimatter asymmetry, and, consequently, our existence.

Dekens now works as a postdoc at LANL, working with Vincenzo Cirigliano. 

Review of the cultivation program within the National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts

March 2017. Algal Research                                                  

Olivares, Jose Antonio ; Lammers, Peter ; Huesemann, Michael ; Boeing, Wiebke ; Anderson, Daniel B. ; Arnold, Robert G. ; Bai, Xuemei ; Bohle, Manish ; Brown, Louis ; Downes, C. Meghan ; Holladay, Jonathan E. ; Laur, Paul ; Marrone, Babetta Louise ; Mott, John Blaine ; Nirmalakhandan, N. Khandan ; Khopkar, Avinash ; Ogden, Kimberly L. ; Parsons, Ronald ; Samocha, Tzachi ; Sayre, Richard Thomas ; Seger, Mark ; Selvaratnam, Thinesh ; Thomasson, Alex ; Unc, Adrian ; Waller, Pete ; Richardson, James W.

Biofuels and Bioproducts (NAABB) were developed to provide four major goals for the consortium, which included biomass production for downstream experimentation, development of new assessment tools for cultivation, development of new cultivation reactor technologies, and development of methods for robust cultivation. The NAABB consortium testbeds produced over 1500 kg of biomass for downstream processing. The biomass production included a number of model production strains, but also took into production some of the more promising strains found through the prospecting efforts of the consortium. Cultivation efforts at large scale are intensive and costly, therefore the consortium developed tools and models to assess the productivity of strains under various environmental conditions, at lab scale, and validated these against scaled outdoor production systems. Two new pond-based bioreactor designs were tested for their ability to minimize energy consumption while maintaining, and even exceeding, the productivity of algae cultivation compared to traditional systems. Also, molecular markers were developed for quality control and to facilitate detection of bacterial communities associated with cultivated algal species, including the Chlorella spp. pathogen, Vampirovibrio chlorellavorus, which was identified in at least two test site locations in Arizona and New Mexico. Finally, the consortium worked on understanding methods to utilize compromised municipal wastewater streams for cultivation. This review provides an overview of the cultivation methods and tools developed by the NAABB consortium to produce algae biomass, in robust low energy systems, for biofuel production.

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