What is it that drives mosquitoes to land on humans? This question is at the heart of NRI PhD student, Manuela Carnaghi’s, doctoral research to better understand which properties are attractive to mosquitoes – with the aim of using these properties to create better traps to catch and kill mosquitoes.
This year, Manuela is a finalist in the UK’s national Three Minute Thesis or 3MT – the competition which challenges doctoral candidates to present a compelling spoken presentation on their research topic and its significance in just three minutes. After winning the People’s Choice Award at this year’s Faculty 3MT competition, then winning the overall award at the University level, Manuela was chosen as one of 12 national semi-finalists, shortlisted from 61 entries, and then selected as one of six finalists.
World Mosquito Day is of particular importance to Manuela and her research, as it commemorates Sir Ronald Ross’ discovery in 1897 of the role mosquitoes play in transmitting malaria. Ross’ breakthrough led to the development of mosquito control strategies which have since resulted in insecticide-treated bed nets, indoor spraying and traps, coupled with anti-malarial drugs.
However, as Manuela explains through her research, mosquitoes have since become resistant to many insecticides, and over half the world’s population are still at risk of malaria. As reported by the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2019 there were an estimated 229 million cases, and 409,000 people died from this infectious disease.
At the final of the 3MT competition – to take place on 10th September 2021, Manuela will describe how her research aims to improve the efficiency of mosquito traps whilst reducing their cost, and help to save hundreds of thousands of lives.
Tune in to the 3MT final, more details coming soon.
World Health Organization – malaria facts
®3MT is an academic competition developed by the University of Queensland, Australia. Its success has led to the establishment of local and national competitions in several countries.
In the UK, the 3MT national competition is hosted by Vitae, bringing together finalists from Vitae member Higher Education Institutions throughout the UK.