Zika #358

February 26, 2016

Image from tanakawho

This week we're focusing in on the Zika virus and the current outbreak to better understand what we know about how its spreading and what the risks are. Meghan Rosen, a staff writer from Science News who has been following the outbreak, talks about where the virus came from, what we know about why it's spreading, and its connections with microcephaly. Epidemiologist and microbiologist Tara Smith returns to talk us through the current collection of conspiracy theories that have arisen, and about what it will take to develop a new vaccine against a virus like Zika. And we'll also speak with Dr. Brian Foy of Colorado State University who recorded the first sexual transmission of the Zika virus.

With this episode we are also delighted to welcome a new contributor and host to our team: Bethany Brookshire, a science writer from Science News!


  • Meghan Rosen
  • Tara Smith
  • Brian Foy

Guest Bios

Meghan Rosen

Meghan Rosen reports on a variety of topics at Science News, from camouflaged robots to feathered dinosaurs and stretchy electronics. Meghan graduated from the Science Communication Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2012, after completing her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology with an emphasis in biotechnology at UC Davis. At Davis, Meghan focused on figuring out how hormone-sensing proteins pitch into kidney and liver cancer. In addition to scientific publications, Meghan has written for the National Cancer Institute, ScienceNOW, Wired.com, and written and produced stories for KUSP, an NPR-affiliated public radio station in Santa Cruz.

Tara Smith

Tara Smith is an Associate Professor of Biostatistics, Environmental Health Sciences and Epidemiology at Kent State University. An Ohio native, she previously was a tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Iowa, College of Public Health, where she directed the College's Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases. Her research focuses on zoonotic infections, and she has done pioneering research in the field. She has published over 50 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters. She has presented her research at numerous national and international platforms, including talks on Capitol Hill on the topic of agriculture and antibiotic resistance. Her work has been profiled in many publications, including Science, Nature, and The New York Times.

Brian Foy

Brian Foy is an Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology at Colorado State University. He works with vectors and vector-borne pathogens and tries to span his research across both basic and applied biology. He received his undergrad at Notre Dame in medical entomology, anthropology and ecology, and received his graduate at Tulane in molecular and cellular biology, immunology and tropical medicine research. His current interests lie in defining concepts that govern blood meal acquisition and digestion by vectors, and parasite and arbovirus transmission from vertebrates to vectors and vice versa, with the goal of using this knowledge, combined with the epidemiological concepts that define vector-borne diseases, to practically control their transmission.

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