Angela Toepp graduated with her MS in Bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2012 and is currently pursuing a PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Iowa College of Public Health. Angela’s master’s thesis research on African sleeping sickness (trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense) has increased her interest in infectious diseases and the impact these diseases have on both humans and animals. Angela hopes to use her knowledge of microbiology, epidemiology, and statistics to study and model the way infectious diseases move through a population. Currently in the Petersen Lab, Angela is determining the prevalence and incidence rates of leishmaniasis in U.S. hunting hounds, examining how comorbid infections (ie: tick borne diseases) impact the transmission of Leishmania, and modeling the basic reproductive number of leishmaniasis in U.S. hunting hounds where vertical transmission is the main route of transmission compared to other countries where both vertical and vector transmission occur concurrently.
Breanna Scorza was born in Chicago, IL and earned her B.S. in Biology and Chemistry from Loyola University Chicago in 2011. During this time, Breanna developed an interest in the immunology of infectious disease. She went on to attain her Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of Iowa in 2017. Her dissertation work involved host-pathogen interactions with the parasite Leishmania, which causes the widespread neglected tropical disease leishmaniasis. Currently, Breanna continues to pursue immunoparasitology expertise as a postdoctoral scholar in the lab of Dr. Christine Petersen in the College of Public Health at the University of Iowa. Her main project aims to elucidate the roles of an understudied immune cell subset, the Natural Killer cell, during chronic diseases such as leishmaniasis and Lyme disease. Another project she is involved with considers what immune and parasitologic parameters correlate with Leishmania host infectiousness to an insect vector. Breanna hopes to combine her laboratory skills with field work and epidemiological analyses to try and understand immune responses in naturally infected populations and how they can be manipulated to prevent disease and transmission.