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Early Career Research Awards 2021

Rafael Gutiérrez López has been awarded the Early Career Researcher Prize for submitting the paper entitled:

Plasmodium transmission differs between mosquito species and parasite lineages

Rafael Gutiérrez López

Rafael Gutiérrez López is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Balearic Islands in Spain, with a strong interest in disease ecology, vector-borne diseases, parasitology and virology. His main research objective is to explore the role of the interactions between hosts, vectors and pathogens in the transmission dynamics of diseases that affect wildlife, livestock and humans. He developed his PhD in the Doñana Biological Station, studying the factors that determine the successful transmission of different mosquito-borne pathogens (avian Plasmodium, West Nile virus and Zika virus), which he then defended at the University of Seville in 2018. After that, he was researcher scientific at The Pirbright Institute in United Kingdom and postdoctoral researcher at the CIBIO (Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos) in Portugal. In 2020, he obtained a grant from the Government of Balearic Islands to develop a postdoc at the University of the Balearic Islands about circulation and transmission of potentially zoonotic pathogens in the wildlife of the Balearic Islands and their prevalence in different habitats and the next year will start a new position at the National Centre of Animal Research, (Madrid, Spain), where he will continue studying the ecology of the diseases transmitted by insect vectors.

Joel Barratt and Sarah Sapp have been awarded the Early Career Researcher Prize for submitting the paper entitled:

Machine learning-based analyses support the existence of species complexes for Strongyloides fuelleborni and Strongyloides stercoralis

Sarah Sapp

Sarah Sapp is a biologist in the Diagnostics & Biology Team of the Parasitic Diseases Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She serves as a morphologist and is a part of the DPDx group, providing parasitological diagnosis and training both within the USA and abroad. Prior to that, she attended the University of Georgia as a presidential graduate fellow and graduated with a PhD in infectious diseases from the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine in 2018. There, Sarah was a member of Dr. Michael Yabsley’s laboratory in the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study (SCWDS), an interdisciplinary group that provides diagnostic, outbreak investigation and research support for federal and 19 member state agencies. Sarah’s doctoral dissertation examined aspects of the biology and transmission of the zoonotic raccoon roundworm (Baylisascaris procyonis) to humans, wildlife, and domestic animal hosts. For this work, she was awarded the American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists (AAVP) graduate student research award in zoonotic diseases in 2017 and the Wildlife Disease Association (WDA) graduate research recognition award in 2018. Currently, her professional interests encompass all human-infecting and zoonotic parasites. Sarah has a passion for applying “lost” insights from historical parasitological literature for reaching accurate diagnoses of challenging cases, and in improving epidemiologic understanding of parasites in the modern era. Sarah studied many vintage volumes of Parasitology for her dissertation, particularly the 1950s and 60s work of J.F.A. Sprent, and continues to do so in her current role at the CDC.

Joel Barratt

Joel Barratt is a research fellow in the Diagnostics & Biology Team of the Parasitic Diseases Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). His research at CDC involves the development of genotyping techniques to complement epidemiological investigations of parasitic disease outbreaks, and the development of diagnostic tools for parasitic infections. Presently, his main focus at CDC is serving as a bioinformatician on a project aiming to develop and deploy a US-wide genotyping system for the foodborne parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis. Joel was educated in Australia and worked there for several years. In Australia, Joel worked as a research assistant in the Microbiology Department at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, developing diagnostic tools for gastrointestinal parasites. He attended the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), School of Life Sciences, graduating with a PhD there in 2013 under the tutelage of Professor John Ellis and Dr Damien Stark. His PhD thesis was on the gastrointestinal parasite Dientamoeba fragilis, and his thesis was deemed of sufficient quality to grant Joel a position on the 2013 UTS Chancellor’s list: an honor acknowledging PhD theses of the highest caliber submitted each year. In 2014, Joel was awarded a competitive Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellowship at UTS, which included a salary and project funding. His Chancellor’s fellowship research focused on trypanosomatid parasites, though he also worked on other parasites, including D. fragilis, Neospora caninum, and Angiostrongylus cantonensis. At the completion of his Chancellor’s fellowship, Joel was recruited to the CDC and is now based in the USA, where he continues his research on parasites.