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Army entomologist searches for diseases in Africa

Image of Soldier wearing gloves testing various substances. Click to open a larger version of the image. Army Maj. Jareè Lenore Johnson, entomology chief at the U.S. Army Medical Research Directorate-Africa, conducts surveillance and resistance testing.

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Army Maj. Jareè Lenore Johnson, Entomology Chief, U.S. Army Medical Research Directorate-Africa, is a board-certified entomologist with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR). She is currently stationed in Kisumu, Kenya and studies insects and pests in order to monitor their behavior and patterns to prevent diseases among the military population.

What vector-borne projects are you working on?

Insecticide resistance, arthropod vectors and their diseases, insecticidal product/spatial testing, and tracking vertebrate ectoparasites and their associated diseases

Teacher in front of class
Army Maj. Jareè Lenore Johnson, entomology chief at the U.S. Army Medical Research Directorate-Africa, speaks with students at the International School in Kenya on harmful and beneficial arthropods. 

What led you to this career?

I was fascinated by critters (animals and insects) at a young age. In college, I started out in animal science because I wanted to be a veterinarian, but fell in love with entomology after accepting a research fellowship to work with ticks/Lyme disease in dogs and humans. Around this time, West Nile Virus entered the East Coast and I had the opportunity to conduct mosquito surveillance for the first time—it was fun! I have two master’s degrees in Animal Health and Diseases and Medical Entomology.

What do you enjoy most about entomology in the U.S. military?

The ability to work with various medically important arthropods and vertebrate pest. The military has given me the opportunity to travel and surround myself with various cultures. There are always new scientific discoveries and I am constantly reading scientific literature to ensure that I am up-to-date on the latest news in medical-veterinary entomology. I am constantly challenged to learn what I don’t know, and that has made me successful in my craft.

Have you contributed to any interesting projects?

I was selected to stand up the Army Public Health Center's first insecticidal resistance program. This grassroots project allowed my soldiers to work on local entomology issues that were not conducted on other installations or Army PM field. This work was rewarding because I was able to teach others and bring a much needed capability to the organization.

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