Rebecca Smith, DVM MS PhD

Smith is just a farm girl who always had a thing for math. After receiving her DVM from Cornell (2005), she took the research route and never looked back. She prides herself on producing research that is applicable to the real world and can make a difference in peoples’ lives.


Lee Ann Lyons, DVM MPH (graduate research assistant)

Lee Ann Lyons is a Ph.D. student in the University of Illinois Pathobiology Department.  Her primary areas of interest are epidemiology of zoonotic diseases, specifically tick-borne diseases, and their relationship to public health.  Lee Ann graduated from the University of Illinois with a DVM in 2008 and an MPH in 2016.  From 2009 to 2014, she worked for the USDA in the Food Safety and Inspection Services as a Supervisory Veterinary Medical Officer.  While working for the USDA, she supervised the humane handling of production animals during the slaughter process and helped to insure the safety of the US food supply.  Lee Ann is a member of the United States Animal Health Association and the American Public Health Association.

Fun Fact: Lee Ann is also a member of the United States Bowling Congress and has been a part of a team that won the Champaign Co. Bowling Tournament.

John Albert Uelmen (graduate research assistant)

Since the earliest days of growing up in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Johnny has always had an interest in everything outdoors. In particular, he always loved how interesting arthropods are – and continue to be! That curiosity led him to an B.S. in Evolutionary Biology, a M.S. in Entomology, and a M.S. in Epidemiology…all of from the University of Wisconsin. Currently, Johnny is nearing completion of his Ph.D. at the University of Illinois, focusing on vector-borne disease modeling. Johnny’s research applications include the complex interactions of the environment, animals, and humans under the forces of a changing climate.  Johnny’s interests are many and broad – from tinkering and fixing classic cars and retro video games to history of Ancient Greece and Rome.

Johnny is the proud husband of a wonderful zoo veterinarian and father of 8 pets (2 cats, 2 chinchillas, 2 bunnies, 1 iguana, and 1 dog)!


Jameson Mori (graduate research assistant)

Jameson Mori is a Ph.D. student in the University of Illinois Pathobiology Department.  His primary area of interest is pathogen control in wastewater and reused water systems. He is currently working on an air dispersion model for waste water irrigation.  Jameson graduated from UMass-Dartmouth in 2017 with a BS in bioengineering.

Fikriyah Winata, MS (graduate research assistant)

Fikriyah Winata (Fik) is a first-year Ph.D student at the Department of Geography and GIS with a concentration in health and medical geography. Under the GISSA Lab, her works are to develop the seasonal tick species habitat suitability models for Ixodes scapularis and analyze human risk models for Lyme Disease in Illinois. Prior to her attendance at the University of Illinois, she was a GIS Specialist working at Esri Indonesia.

Serena Schatz, MSPH (MCE-VBD research fellow)

Serena Schatz is a Midwest Center of Excellence for Vector Borne Disease (MCE-VBD) research fellow. Her work involves West Nile Virus prediction modelling and a qualitative study of mosquito surveillance and control priorities in the Midwest, as well as field surveillance of mosquito and tick vectors. Her primary interest is in applied epidemiological research on vector-borne and zoonotic diseases for program development and evaluation, including transmission dynamics and novel vector control strategies. Serena graduated from Cornell University in 2015 with a BS in biology and entomology, then from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2018 with a MSPH in global disease epidemiology and control.

Bennett Lamczyk (DVM candidate 2021, research assistant)

Bennett is a student of the University of Illinois, College of Veterinary Medicine. His current interests are in public health and zoonotic diseases. He assists with the I-TICK program and is pursuing a Certificate in Medical Entomology. His extracurricular research is in human outdoor behavior and its association with West Nile virus exposure risk to the Chicago population. Bennett graduated from the University of Findlay in 2017 with a BS in biology and animal science.

Photo of Samantha Crist

Samantha Crist (DVM candidate 2022, research assistant)

Samantha is a student attending the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. She has many interests in the veterinary field, one of which being production animal medicine. This is what drew her to research and she is currently reviewing literature to determine the effects of flooding on beef cattle and swine. She graduated from the University of Illinois ACES as a Bronze Tablet student with a major in Animal Science and a minor in Chemistry. Samantha plans on specializing in the field of veterinary medicine post-graduation.


Former Members

Maya Scott-Richardson (M.S.)

Maya Scott-Richardson, PhD (graduate research assistant)

Maya Scott-Richardson hails from Lithonia, GA and attended Tuskegee University where she became the first person to graduate with a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Health in 2012 and completed her Masters of Science in Environmental Sciences in 2014 where her thesis focused on evaluating of the effects of arsenic contamination on soil enzymes activity and microbial composition. Maya defended her doctoral degree in Pathobiology (Spatial Epidemiology) on the legacy of arsenic in panhandle Florida and its adverse health effects on vulnerable population in panhandle Florida in November 2019.



Alvyn Hernandez Reyes (undergraduate research assistant)

Alvyn Hernandez Reyes is an undergrad at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign through the college of Liberal Arts and Science. Currently, Alvyn is pursuing a Certificate in Medical Entomology through his summer research with the I-TICK program. Alvyn’s current interests are in neuroscience and public health. He has aspirations to pursue a doctorate degree of medicine and is currently obtaining his B.S. in Integrative Biology and Cognitive Neuroscience.


Gianluigi Rossi, PhD (postdoctoral research associate)

Currently with the University of Edinburgh

I am a disease ecologist, using my knowledge and skills to investigate the epidemic transmission dynamics in livestock systems. My research also aims to provide solutions for epidemic prevention and control plans, which help to improve animals and humans health.

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes