Evaluating New Techniques to Control Tick-borne Disease Spread

The selected student will join a Federal Centers for Diseases Control-funded team from the Cornell Natural Resources and Entomology Departments evaluating a new rodent-targeted vaccine to prevent Lyme disease infection in local tick populations in Onondaga County, NY.

There are two major outcomes of this project. First, we will gain an understanding of how feasible it is for residents of Onondaga County to use bait stations with the rodent vaccine to reduce the prevalence of infected ticks on their properties. Second, we will provide tick educational opportunities for Onondaga County residents and CCE staff on tick identification, tick risk, and tick bite prevention. 

Roles and responsibilities 

The student will assist CCE staff and technicians with site selection and set-up for tick sampling. The student will learn how to collect ticks using CDC best practices and identify and process ticks for later pathogen testing. The student will also help CCE staff develop and deliver educational materials for community residents and volunteers. The student should be comfortable working both independently and as a CCE team member.

Qualifications and previous coursework

This opportunity is available to non-graduating students in Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

  • Students should have an interest in the sciences, education, and outreach reflected in some prior coursework in these areas.
  • They must be willing to work outdoors in the summer, sometimes in inclement weather.
  • Students should have excellent communication skills.
  • Some experience in research and fieldwork is encouraged but not required
  • A driver’s license is required as driving on behalf of the summer project will be required 

Learning outcomes 

  • Identify common tick species and life stages
  • Understand field sampling designs and data collection protocols
  • Understand personal protection strategies and ways to minimize risk from tick bites
  • Become familiar with preparing field samples for follow-up lab analyses
  • Develop and deliver educational materials concerning tick ecology. 

After conducting this internship, students will have detailed knowledge of tick biology, tick surveillance, tick identification, and tick-borne disease prevention practices. Interns will also gain skills in science communication and extension, working within a collaborative team, and working with the public.