Captain Lisa O'Brien - Entomologist
Captain Lisa O'Brien, Entomologist - talks about role/experience/benefits - advantages of joining - change & challenge, more opportunities to expand skills, leading edge technology (land warrior system), research - try to determine what ins...
My name is Captain Lisa O'Brien. I'm a 72-Bravo - that is an Entomologist.
I'm currently stationed at Ft. Sam Houston, Texas. I joined the Army for a variety of reasons, mostly change and challenge.
I was a professor of biology at Texas A&M International University. I felt fairly limited by the types of classes that I was teaching and I was also fairly confined by my Ph.D. research, and in the Army I have more opportunities to go out and really expand my skills.
The Army uses leading-edge technology in its research very heavily. We're involved in a lot of things, particularly in entomology, in trying to determine what insects actually carry diseases.
One of the prime examples of very nice technology that we're currently using is a malaria antigen test. In this case, soldiers in the field can grind up insects and determine whether they have the malaria plasmodium present or not.
We're also developing PCR (gene-splitting machine) techniques to identify insects so our soldiers can go out in the field and determine whether the bugs that are biting them carry diseases or not.
We conduct a lot of research in such things as repellents, particularly with interest for developing new products that are not as harmful to the environment, to people, to pets and to wildlife. We also conduct a broad variety of research on specific vector-borne diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever and leishmaniasis. These are all particularly important to the military because they can be mission-stoppers - they can truly debilitate Soldiers.
There are a lot of exciting technologies that are coming down the pipeline in the future such as the Land Warrior System. We envision being able to use it in entomology to uplink information via satellite and then in return, get rapid, immediate identification of insects and diseases.
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