Jonathan Day, Ph.D.
Professor of Medical Entomology
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Florida is the only state in the U.S. that reports consistent annual outbreaks of mosquito-borne encephalitis viruses. The more than 12,000 United States cases of West Nile in 2002-03 show how threatening the virus can be. Jonathan Day’s research is the basis for the Florida mosquito disease surveillance program which tracks encephalitis viruses in Florida, and gives citizens advanced warnings of outbreaks. “I’ve always been interested in ecology and natural history,” says Day, a medical entomologist and ecologist. “When it came time to select a Ph.D. program, I chose medical entomology dealing with mosquitoes and mosquito-borne disease.” Day’s research includes tracking vector populations, predicting endemic and epidemic disease transmission, and creating human and domestic animal transmission risk maps. He says predicting mosquito-borne epidemics is very much like detective work. “It is really intriguing to see the environmental conditions that are conducive to an epidemic line-up in early spring, and then make a prediction to the residents of Florida,” Day says. “We can then sit back and hope we were correct.”