Project Summary 

Purdue University announces “Tick INsiders” – a citizen science project to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of tick-borne diseases in Indiana. Our goal is to better understand the risks of tick-borne diseases across the state, and improve health care for Indiana citizens.​ Our team of scientists samples for ticks at locations around the state every Spring-Summer. We sample for three tick species considered vectors of disease – the Lyme disease tick, Ixodes scapularis, the American dog tick, Dermacentor variabilis, and the lone star tick, Amblyomma americanum. Ticks are analyzed at Purdue for hundreds of pathogens and parasites using a sequencing technique called “MiSeq”. Our goal is to determine the geographic range of tick vectors around the state and the suite of pathogens and parasites circulating in Indiana tick populations. We use this information to develop detailed, region-specific disease-risk maps. Every year, we seek highly motivated high school students (grades 8-12) with an interest in public health, infectious disease, entomology, and environmental science to join our team of scientists over the Spring-Summer. Successful applicants participate in a half-day field trip, to work with researchers from the Department of Entomology to collect and analyze ticks for tick-borne diseases. A small group of participants are also invited to visit the West Lafayette campus in late Fall to take part in a “Day on Campus.” Students shadow members of the Tick INsiders team, tour the medical entomology laboratory, meet College ambassadors and visit with Departments of interest. This “science immersion” is intended to highlight the scope of career opportunities in public health. If you would like to know more about our results or how to become involved, please read on!