From Intern to Published Researcher
Ainaz Sharabyani, a biochemistry major at Chaffey College, found herself in the quintessential college experience this summer: juggling summer school, two internships and a personal life. As an intern at the West Valley Mosquito Control District, Sharabyani participated in several different projects all focused on the susceptibility of the southern house mosquito, Culex quinquefasciatus, in the field as compared to laboratory colonies, also known as southern house mosquito, from the field to the laboratory reference colony of the same species.
According to their website, the West Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District is a public health district dedicated to the management of disease-causing insects and animals.
This is where Ainaz spent her summer studying pyrethroid resistance in the southern house mosquito from different ecological niches. Pyrethroids are man made Mosquitoes are widely known for their ability to spread contagious diseases such as the West Nile virus, malaria and yellow fever. Thus, the West Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District’s mission is to manage and survey animals and insects that spread disease.
“The mosquito either makes mutations or creates a new enzyme to breakdown the permethrin, so they won’t be responding to it. Therefore, if any resistance develops we want to know how, when and what’s the dosage level. So, we started setting traps in different four eco zones: an urban, suburban, agriculture, and riparian area,” Sharabyani shared. “Pregnant mosquitoes are attracted to infusion water, which is just rabbit food and water. Once we placed the infusion water in a plastic tub, we’d wait a day to then collect the eggs and take them back to the lab in order to watch them hatch and become adults,” she continued.
Their project hypothesized that the mosquitoes would have least susceptibility to the pesticide for the riparian area. Once back in the lab, they worked tirelessly to conclude their findings.
Defying the typical internship experience, the program gave Sharabyani the opportunity to write a 24 page report for the Journal of Economic Entomology.
While studying with the West Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District and her mentor, Dr. T. Steven Su, it was clear Sharabyani gained an abundance of knowledge.
Despite a busy schedule, Sharabyani executed what most interns only dream of. After weeks of rigorous work in the field, Sharbyani felt she had an exceptional learning experience this summer. Although she had no prior expertise in mosquitoes before her internship, she displayed the opposite through her research and findings. Sharabyani was invited to present her findings at the Annual State of California Mosquito and Vector Control Association of California Conference in January in San Diego. She emphasized that none of her success would have been possible without the support of her mentors at West Valley Mosquito Control District.