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2018 Vector-Borne and Water-Related Disease Workshop

The purpose of this workshop is to share some success stories to showcase how NASA data are being used to inform, predict, and better understand water-related and vector-borne disease. We hope to include researchers, government agencies, NGOs, educators, and a wide cross-section that includes potential end users to assist us in improving the applicability for these data.

Date & Time

May. 17, 2018
9:00am – 5:00pm ET


6th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center
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NASA's GPM Disease Initiative and the Wilson Center are excited to be co-sponsoring a day-long Vector and Waterborne Disease Workshop that brings together leaders in epidemiology, public health, policy, and citizen science. The goal is to advance the dialogue and collaborate on actionable techniques for utilizing Earth Observation data for the understanding, monitoring, and prediction of emerging diseases.



9:00 Introduction from Co-Chairs, Dorian Janney (NASA/ADNET) and Anne Bowser Ph.D. (Wilson Center)

9:30 Keynote Speaker: Rep. Bill Foster Ph.D., Congressman from Illinois 11th District and member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology and House Committee on Financial Services

10:15 Panel on New and Emerging Research

  • Antar Julta, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, West Virginia University
  • Mike Wimberly, Senior Scientist, Geospatial Sciences Center of Excellence; and Professor, Natural Resource Management, South Dakota State University
  • Ben Zaitchik, Associate Professor, The Johns Hopkins Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences

11:15 Keynote Speaker: Rita Colwell Ph.D., Distinguished Professor at the University of Maryland College Park and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, former Director of the National Science Foundation 1998-2004

1:00 Panel on Health, Data, and Complexity

  • Bernadette Dunham, Professorial Lecturer, Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University; and Helena Chapman, AAAS Fellow, NASA Applied Sciences Program
  • Nicole Wayant, Army Corp Geospatial Research Laboratory
  • John Balbus, National Institute of Environmental Health Science, Senior Advisor for Public Health
  • Cristina Schneider, Advisor, Human and Animal Interface, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Health Emergency Department

2:00 Panel on Citizen Science and Outreach

  • John Palmer, Postdoctoral Researcher, Ecological and Forestry Applications Research Center Barcelona Spain (CREAF), Global Mosquito Alert partner
  • Julia Heslin, GIS consultant, Baltimore Green Map, formerly a Research Consultant at NASA DEVELOP
  • Rusty Low, Senior Scientist, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), Global Mosquito Alert partner, GLOBE Observer Mosquito Habitat Mapper (MHM)

3:00 Breakout Sessions

4:00 Keynote Presentation: Madeleine Thomson Ph.D., Director, WHO Collaborating Centre on Early Warning Systems for Malaria and other Climate Sensitive Diseases & Senior Research Scientist, International Research Institute for Climate and Society

5:00 Cocktail Reception


About the Project:

Vector-borne diseases are responsible for over 17% of all the infectious diseases globally. Many of these diseases are preventable through protective measures, provided local authorities are aware of the potential outbreaks of the responsible vectors. Vectors are living organisms that are able to transmit diseases between humans or from animals to humans. These diseases include but are not limited to cholera, malaria, dengue fever, Zika, schistosomiasis, and West Nile fever.

The vectors include mosquitoes, ticks, sandflies, fleas, and other insects. NASA data sets can be used to identify environmental conditions that may result in the onset of vector-borne diseases. These environmental conditions include surface temperature, air temperature, precipitation, soil moisture, vegetation, and evapotranspiration.  At the present time, many researchers are using these data sets but most operational users have not begun to take advantage of the availability of these data sets.

Other water related diseases including cholera can have widespread impacts on populations and are directly related to water presence, sanitation, and quality, environmental variables often disrupted during extreme events and natural disasters.

In an effort to further explore the linkages and research/operational applications of NASA water resource data and disease; GPM is launching an applications campaign.  Some of the deliverables from this campaign will include:

  • End-user stories and interviews documented through several channels to support case studies
  • New visualization(s) and NASA stories to describe these linkages
  • Activities to engage the general public in understanding how NASA data sets can be used to inform the prediction of the onset of Zika, West Nile virus, cholera, and other diseases (e.g. Museum Alliance webinars)
  • An online resource page which includes a continuum of resources which would be useful for general audiences in a variety of settings


Anticipated Outcomes

  • Participants will get a broader understanding about the availability and accessibility of NASA EOS data to enhance the prediction and response to vector-borne and water-related disease
  • Participants will get a broader perspective on the needs of operational end-users, such as public health officials, government and NGO’s who work to reduce the onset and/or respond to outbreaks of these diseases
  • Participants will gain an understanding of the research efforts of NASA EOS and PMM data “Early Adopters” who will share the results of their research and/or operational response activities
  • Participants will be aware of a wide range of resources they can use to conduct outreach activities to make the general public aware of the possibilities of using NASA EOS and PMM data to predict and respond to vector-borne and water-related diseases.

For questions about this event, please contact Dr. Anne Bowser at

Hosted By

Science and Technology Innovation Program

The Science and Technology Innovation Program (STIP) serves as the bridge between technologists, policymakers, industry, and global stakeholders.  Read more

Environmental Change and Security Program

The Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP) explores the connections between environmental change, health, and population dynamics and their links to conflict, human insecurity, and foreign policy.  Read more

Thank you for your interest in this event. Please send any feedback or questions to our Events staff.