Our Interns

Patricia Torres
Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Program: Directorate Resource Assistant Fellows Program (DFP)
Location: U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Southeast Region Office
Intern Year(s): 2023

Patricia Torres

I first became interested in vector-borne diseases as an undergraduate at Humboldt State University when I took a course on wildlife diseases. At the time, I was working in the Natural Resources Department for the Wiyot Tribe, a federally recognized Native American Tribe in northern California. I began asking questions about the intersection of tick-borne diseases, wildlife health, and human health, especially indigenous populations due to their proximity and intricate connection with nature. Early on, I began applying for funding on behalf of the Tribe. Throughout my time with the Wiyot Tribe, I wrote grants, prepared budgets, and gathered all necessary documentation for submitting proposals. I was involved in the application, management, and administration of several grant-funded projects from federal, state, and local non-profit agencies. Projects managed by the Natural Resources Department spanned environmental education, fisheries, ethnobotany, environmental restoration, food sovereignty, water quality monitoring, hazardous waste management, and indoor air quality. I had the privilege of working with children through the Tribal Youth Program by designing an environmental education curriculum and organizing field trips. Day-to-day fieldwork involved fish surveys, bird surveys, habitat restoration, and monitoring and mapping with various equipment types.

Being of service to the community was one of the most significant parts of the job. While working for the Tribe, I returned to Humboldt State a year after graduation to obtain a certificate of achievement in Geospatial Sciences through a year-long program. After working for the Wiyot Tribe, I became interested in working with a community-based approach and I accepted a position as a project manager with a non-profit organization called North Coast Health Improvement and Information Network. This work focused on healthcare and public health projects with various partnering organizations.

I began my graduate studies at the University of Georgia in the Fall of 2021, under the advisement of Dr. Michael Yabsley. Through UGA’s Integrative Conservation program, my research will explore predictive modeling techniques for tick densities and pathogen prevalence, disease risk for marginalized populations, and how climate change may impact human disease risk. My future goals center around advancing knowledge on the ecology of tick-borne diseases, employing innovative research methods to integrate the public into the scientific process, and advancing equity in academia.

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