|Her poster describing her study and results|
Megan titled this project, Effects of Breeding Phenology on Avian Malaria Transmission Model. She described her research and her findings as follows: “In the Hawaiian archipelago, there is an infectious disease called avian malaria which has been affecting many native Hawaiian birds, transmitted by southern house mosquitoes. Simulations were run in Matlab to predict what total host infection rates of a bird species was based on differing breeding phenology (seasonality). The breeding phenology refers to the various times of year that the birds and mosquitoes had their breeding seasons in, so a single bird peak breeding season was estimated and compared with five other mosquito peak breeding seasons. The temporal distance between a mosquito breeding season and bird breeding season was then used to predict the infection rate. This was also tested in terms of low and high elevation since infection rates have been known to differ at various levels. The results concluded that when the mosquito breeding season was later than the bird breeding season, total host infection rates were higher. Then a simulation for differences in low and high elevations were run. For low elevations, total host infection rates were at their highest regardless of breeding phenology but were highest when the mosquito breeding season was before the bird breeding season. For high elevations, total host infection rates were highest when the mosquito breeding season was later than the bird breeding season. The importance of this is that it's important to preserve the biodiversity of the Hawaiian archipelago, and conservation measures should be implemented depending on when total host infection rates were. Our findings indicate a higher rate of total host infection at lower elevations than at higher elevations. Additionally, total host infection rates are higher when vector breeding season peaks occur after the breeding season peaks of native Hawaiian birds. Conclusively, based on the breeding season peak phenology, there should be measures taken to protect Hawaiian bird species since avian malaria is a prominent reason for population decline in these birds. If not, the population decline and potential extinction of bird species can have drastic effects on the biodiversity of the Hawaiian archipelago.”
Currently, Megan is a student at the UIUC majoring in actuarial science and minoring in mathematical statistics, informatics, and creative writing. She also works as a Resident Advisor in University Housing at UIUC. In addition to her studies and work, Megan is a member of the Actuarial Science Club and is looking forward to serving as a Mathematics Ambassador for the UIUC Department of Mathematics. As for her future plans, Megan would like to attend graduate school for a masters or Ph.D. in statistics, and eventually pursue a career in the realm of statistics and data science.