Kaycie Hopkins, PhD

Scientist

Verily Life Sciences

Deadliest Catch: How a love-hate relationship with bugs turned into a career hunting the world’s deadliest animal

Science

The deadliest animal in the world kills more people every year than every other animal combined and is smaller than a staple. Mosquitoes transmit parasitic and viral diseases that make millions of people sick worldwide every year, and global warming is causing their range to creep further from the tropics, including into the United States. One species, Aedes aegypti, is responsible for the transmission of Dengue virus, Yellow Fever virus, Chikungunya virus and Zika virus; we have almost no therapeutics or vaccines for these diseases. Common approaches to controlling the mosquito population are difficult to enact at scale, and mosquitoes are developing resistance to the most commonly used insecticides. The Sterile Insect Technique (SIT), or releasing sterile insects to drive the population down, has been done successfully at scale to eliminate some invasive insect species, however it has never worked on mosquitoes.

Meet the Speaker:

Kaycie received her PhD in immunology at University of Pennsylvania and did postdoctoral work at UC Berkeley. Kaycie is currently a scientist on the Debug Project, working with an interdisciplinary team of biologists, software engineers, and automation experts to develop new ways to control mosquito-borne diseases.