Research Projects

Healy Lab Research

Ongoing Research Projects in my Laboratory

Our laboratory has become nationally recognized in it’s work on applied research projects with mosquito control. In particular, we have a major focus on conducting unbiased research

with multidisciplinary stakeholder groups on the issues concerning non target impacts of pesticides

Non-target impacts

Our grant projects include examining the effects of mosquito adulticides on  the health and mortality of honey bees, and examining the use of biomarkers as predictors to honey bee health outcomes.  While obtaining my second Master’s degree, in public health, I became extremely interested in pesticide’s and their effects on the environment, human health, and the health of other animals (including insects).  With the help of numerous collaborative partner’s, our research objectives are to examine the effects of different pesticides on honey bee health and mortality.  This includes numerous laboratory based studies to examine both acute and sublethal effects, semi-field studies to examine the effects of different pesticides in the field, and field based studies to look at long term exposure to different types of pesticides.  We are continually developing new projects in this area of study.  I am currently advising several postdoctoral researchers and students in this area of study through EPA and USDA grant funded projects. We are also collaborating on research projects with the USDA honey bee breeding and genetics laboratory in Baton Rouge. Louisiana State University is an ideal location to study this type of research, due to the close proximity of our highly qualified collaborative partners on these projects, and the close ties with the local beekeeping community.

  • Rinkevich, F., Joseph W. Margotta, Vivek Pohkrel, Todd W. Walker, Randy H. Vaeth, Wesley C. Hoffman, Bradley K. Fritz, Robert G. Danka, Thomas E. Rinderer, Robert L. Aldridge, Kenneth J. Linthicum, James A. Ottea  and Kristen B. Healy. Assessing the impacts of truck based ultra-low volume applications of mosquito adulticides on honey bees (Apis mellifera). Submitted July 2016.
  • Rinkevich, F., J. Margotta, J. Pittman, J. Ottea, and K. Healy. 2016. Pteridine levels and head weights are correlated with age and colony task in the honey bee, Apis mellifera. PEERJ.
  • Rinkevich, F.,, J. Margotta, J. Pittman, B. Danka, M. Tarver, J. Ottea, and K. Healy. 2015. Genetics, Synergists, and Age Affect Insecticide Sensitivity of the Honey Bee, Apis mellifera. PLoS One. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0139841

Mosquito Biology, Surveillance, and Control

I was hired at Louisiana State University, in 2013, to work closely with mosquito control in the area of applied research and extension.  In 2015, I was elected to the board at LMCA, and obtained funding from mosquito control to hire a full time applied research associate to assist with mosquito related projects. While many of our projects are written in an annual report, and are currently in press for publication, we continue to publish our work annually. Our studies have spanned areas including trapping technology, novel control mechanisms, trapping efficacy, control efficacy, mosquito biology, and statewide surveillance of container Aedes.  Below are a few applied researched projects that have been published.

Training and Education

As an educator, I strive to find novel strategies to educate students and the public about areas impacting public health (primarily mosquitoes and vector-borne diseases).  During my postdoctoral research, I obtained my MPH, which allowed me to take courses on public health education.  During this time, I was able to better understand the sociology of behavior change, and acceptance of various forms of educational techniques.  This has helped me to more effectively train individuals across various skill levels, from children to highly educated adults.  I appreciate the use of novel strategies in education, especially tools that actively engage those we are trying to train.  In 2017, I became chair of our Louisiana Mosquito Control Association’s annual workshop committee.  I restructured the workshop to a novel format, to actively engage mosquito control workers.  I also restructured our mosquito control manual.  As a result, our mosquito control workers are now much more prepared for taking certification exams. You can find some examples below of some of my published strategies for novel forms of public health education.

  • Healy, K. 2019. The use of Minecraft Education as an educational tool to teach kids about mosquito control. Wing Beats. 30: 17-19.
  • Healy, K. 2019. Using an escape-room themed curriculum to engage and educate generation Z students about entomology. American Entomologist. 65: 24-28.
  • Healy, K., G. Hamilton., T. Crepeau, S. Healy, I Unlu, A. Farajollahi, D. Fonseca. 2014. Integrating the public in mosquito management: active education by community peers can lead to significant reduction in peridomestic container mosquito habitats. PLoS ONE. 9(9): e108504. Doi:10.1371

Vector-borne Diseases

Since I began graduate school in the late 1990’s, I have been involved in testing for vector-borne diseases in the laboratory.  In Rhode Island, I was able to volunteer in our vector-borne disease lab and learn techniques in testing mosquitoes and birds for West Nile virus.  In 2019, I was part of a review paper on mosquito vectors.  And given my interest in vector-borne transmission, I have been able to take these techniques over to honey bee research to understand vector-borne dynamics of mite transmission of honey bee related viruses to bees.

Forensic Entomology

Several of my predecessors at LSU (including Lamar Meek), were heavily involved in forensic entomology. As a result, I have taken on the role at LSU to teach courses in Forensic entomology, as well as help state institutions with several cases involving insect evidence. We have worked cases involving both human murder remains, as well as a wildlife case involving whooping cranes. We also have increased interest in providing additional training at the state level.

Areawide Mosquito Control

My post-doctoral research was in the area of Area-wide mosquito management for the Asian tiger mosquito.  Much of this work laid the foundation for area-wide strategies and educational strategies that would be used by the CDC and AMCA, especially in response to Chikungunya and Zika virus in the United States.  Below is a list of publications that I was involved in within this topic of research.

DM Fonseca, I Unlu, T Crepeau, A Farajollahi, SP Healy, K Bartlett‐Healy, …2013. Area‐wide management of Aedes albopictus. Part 2: Gauging the efficacy of traditional integrated pest control measures against urban container mosquitoes Pest management science 69 (12), 1351-1361

I Unlu, A Farajollahi, SP Healy, T Crepeau, K Bartlett‐Healy, E Williges, …2012. Area‐wide management of Aedes albopictus: choice of study sites based on geospatial characteristics, socioeconomic factors and mosquito populations  Pest Management Science 67 (8), 965-974

K Bartlett-Healy, I Unlu, P Obenauer, T Hughes, S Healy, T Crepeau, …2012. SAMPLING, DISTRIBUTION, DISPERSAL-Larval Mosquito Habitat Utilization and Community Dynamics of Aedes albopictus and Aedes japonicus (Diptera: Culicidae).Journal of Medical Entomology 49 (4), 813

“Never give up on what you really want to do. The person with big dreams is more powerful than one with all the facts.

Albert Einstein

My lab partners with institutions around the country for applied research topics