Honoring Black Scientists: Meet Kaylee Arnold

#BlackInMarineScienceWeek has come to an end, but the hard work these Black dedicated scientists do every day continues to impact and inspire Black children everywhere. Kaylee Arnold is not only providing representation for Black children, but showing Black girls that Black women also have the right to occupy any space, any career, and any field within the scientific world. Thank you, Kaylee Arnold, for your continued contributions, innovation and for providing Black representation within the scientific community.

Meet Kaylee Arnold

Hi, my name is Kaylee Arnold, and I am currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Georgia in the Odum School of Ecology. I am a disease ecologist who currently studies how human disturbances impact the gut bacteria of insects and their ability to transmit diseases to humans and other animals. Bacteria and other microbes are found in the guts of nearly every animal and help with important processes such as digestion, reproduction, and parasite resistance. Insects that spread disease, or disease vectors, are responsible for up to 17% of all infectious diseases. These insects include mosquitoes, ticks, and my study species, kissing bugs. Kissing bugs transmit the parasite that causes Chagas disease, and my research is focused on studying kissing bug guts to better understand if human disturbances, like deforestation, impact their gut bacteria and ultimately the insect’s ability to transmit the parasite.

Before I became a disease ecologist, I actually fell in love with STEM by working with marine animals. I studied the behaviors of grey whales during college and the behaviors of bottlenose dolphins during an internship after college. Both projects were focused on understanding whether boats or offshore fish farms impacted the behaviors of the animals, especially their breathing rates and social structures. Before graduate school, I also worked at an aquarium in San Diego, CA as an educator, and I worked as a fish technician at a marine fish hatchery. While at the hatchery we reared white sea bass to help replenish their populations off the coast of California. Although I no longer work in marine science, once I finish my Ph.D. in ecology I hope to work with state or federal agencies to monitor and mitigate marine animal infectious diseases.

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