Varela-Stokes' Laboratory: People
Andrea Varela-Stokes, DVM, PhD
Principal Investigator (CV)
Dr. Varela-Stokes has been at Mississippi State University since 2007. Aside from her research interests described on that page, she is passionate about teaching and international
veterinary medicine. Dr. Varela-Stokes currently teaches Veterinary Parasitology and Helminthology, and lectures in the Wildlife Diseases course and various other courses at CVM and on the main MSU campus. Her interest in parasites and global health developed as an undergraduate and veterinary student and she traveled three times to Kenya to study parasites in various wildlife hosts. Although she now stays within domestic borders studying the fascinating world of tick-borne disease, she hopes to impart her general passion for research, parasites and international veterinary medicine, to all students who cross her path.
There is one parasite, however, who stands out as her favorite. He is a wonderful 2 and ½ year old named Marco. Her husband John, son Marco, dogs Roscoe and Ellie Mae, and kitty Leon make up Dr. Varela-Stokes' crazy household in Starkville, MS.
Whitney Smith, MS
Research Associate II
Whitney is the lab’s Research Associate and a 2010 graduate of Mississippi State University with an MS degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Originally from Southeast Missouri, Whitney has worked in a variety of laboratory settings over her career ranging from agricultural weed science to canine platelet research. In the Varela-Stokes lab, Whitney is working on several projects including the molecular analysis of Leucocytozoon parasites in avian species, as well as the characterization of rickettsial coinfection in Amblyomma maculatum.
Flavia Girao, MV
Ph.D. candidate (CV)
Flavia is a Brazilian veterinarian who graduated from University of Viçosa, where she worked for three years with Rhipicephalus microplus and bovine babesiosis. At MSU, she is currently a Ph.D. candidate studying Rickettsia parkeri and "Candidatus R. andeanae" in Amblyomma maculatum ticks. In addition to her research, Flavia also spends her time volunteering for Habitat for Humanity and the MSU Latino association. Her long term plans are to remain in academia, investigating parasitic infections of humans and other animals and teaching related topics.
Ph.D. candidate (CV)
Originally from Santa Cruz, California, Gail is a first generation American with Romanian roots. Gail graduated cum laude with her B.S. from Cornell University in 2008 and is now a PhD candidate at MSU working on the role of vertebrate hosts in Rickettsia parkeri transmission. While she is not certain where her feet will lead her next, she does want to pass along her passion for science to future students. Along with teaching, she'd like to continue investigating the ecology of infectious diseases.
Others you may see working in the lab:
Lauren is working on her MS in entomology through the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology. Her major professor is Dr. Jerome Goddard; Dr. Varela-Stokes serves on her committee. Lauren’s project focuses on Ixodes scapularis ecology in Mississippi and prevalence of Borrelia burgdorferi, Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Babesia spp. in these ticks.
Past lab members:
Ashley Harris Castellaw, MS
Ashley completed an MS in December 2009. Her research focused on the detection of tick-borne agents in wildlife and Amblyomma americanum ticks in Mississippi. Ashley is currently a Research Technologist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN, and is happily married to future DVM, Matt Castellaw, due to graduate from MSU in May 2012.
Kristine Tischer Edwards DVM, PhD
Dr. Edwards completed her PhD in December 2009. Her research focused on the role of cattle in Rickettsia parkeri natural history. She is currently a post-doctoral associate in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology, and Plant Pathology. In her current research she is
modifying population genetics software designed to model agricultural insect resistance to apply it to malaria mosquito resistance. You'll also see her here at MSU CVM where she co-teaches veterinary parasitology, and as an invited speaker at various extension and other functions.
Erle Chenney, MS
Erle is a Research Associate III and worked on various projects in our lab from June 2007 to August 2010.
Past Summer Research Experience students:
2008: Jamesia Showers (Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine)
2009: Alexandria Murphy (Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine); Alex also returned to our lab during the summer of 2011 to continue to work on her project.
2010: Diana Link (Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine)