Scientists gather, confer on disease ecology, pathogens

July 25, 2023
Faculty/staff report
student and dagan

Saint Michael’s student researcher Dayna Mieles ’24, standing, talks over a point with Professor Dagan Loisel, gesturing in black shirt at right in this image and the large one behind the headline. (Photos by Lauren Read)

Thirty Vermont scientists gathered on campus on Monday, July 24 for a day-long conference organized by Dagan Loisel of the Saint Michael’s College biology faculty.

Attendees engaged with 13 scientific presentations on topics related to disease ecology, human and animal health, and detection and surveillance of pathogens. Presenters from Saint Michael’s included Dayna Mieles’ 24, a summer research student in the lab of faculty biologist Nicole Podnecky. Loisel also presented.

Loisel said the presentations focused on research into tick density and population dynamics, Lyme disease bacteria geographic variation, diversity of freshwater snail parasites, surveillance of SARS CoV-2 in Vermont wildlife, rodents as reservoirs of viruses, viral and fungal diseases of amphibians, antibiotic resistance in bacteria, current Next-generation sequencing technologies, and viral surveillance in college students.

Mieles smiles

Dayna Mieles seemed to enjoy herself as her presentation got rolling.

Loisel said attendees for the conference, which ran from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Jeanmarie 380, included researchers and students from the small colleges of Vermont and the University of Vermont who are interested in disease ecology, host-pathogen interactions, and pathogen surveillance.”

The day revolved around talks of approximately 15 minutes each by the participants with the goal of providing “a pretty relaxed and informal venue for discussing our research,” Loisel said. “There was lively discussion of current and ongoing research, new research projects and grants, and potential avenues for future investigation.

Dagan prosents

Conference organizer Dagan Loisel of the biology faculty presents. (photo Pat Bohan)

Presenters included undergraduates, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and professors from Saint Michael’s College, Norwich University, Vermont State University, Middlebury College, and UVM, as well as from scientific staff at the NIH National Human Genome Research Institute.  Among the presenters were researchers and staff from the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife and Vermont Integrative Genomics Resource Center.

Dayna Mieles, the Saint Michael’s summer student researcher, presented confidently and knowledgeably about “Generality of efflux-pump-mediated gentamicin collateral sensitivity in E. coli, fielding questions from her audience after. Loisel later presented on “Longitudinal viral surveillance in health college students during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic.”


Dagan Loisel holds the attention of his audience Monday. (photo Pat Bohan)

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