Zika Virus


As the spread of the Zika virus continues to generate worldwide concern, UT experts hailing from a range of disciplines are available to offer perspective, from health policy and communication to biology and entomology.

If you are seeking expertise on other subjects, please call University Media Relations at 512-471-3151 or consult our general Media Experts Guide.



Health Policy and Communication


Abigail R Aiken

Abigail R Aiken

Assistant Professor , Lyndon B Johnson School of Public Affairs
+1 512 232 2561, araa2@utexas.edu

Aiken's current research focuses on the measurement and meaning of unintended pregnancy. She examines the relationship between the social, economic, and emotional impacts of unintended pregnancy and health outcomes for women, men, and children. She recently gained widespread international attention for research published in the New England Journal of Medicine showing that demand for abortions in Latin America increased after Zika advisories were issued. 

Media Contact: Tori Yu, victoriajyu@austin.utexas.edu, 512-232-4054

Jay M Bernhardt

Jay M Bernhardt

Dean , College of Communication
+1 512 471 5646, +1 512 471 8100, jay.bernhardt@austin.utexas.edu

Jay Bernhardt is Founding Director of the Center for Health Communication at the Moody College of Communication. He is recognized internationally as a visionary leader, respected scholar, and innovative scientist in the application of communication, marketing, and media to public health, healthcare, and medicine. He previously served as Director of the National Center for Health Marketing (NCHM) at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Media Contact: Nick Hundley, nick.hundley@austin.utexas.edu, 512-471-7209

Joshua W Busby

Joshua W Busby

Associate Professor , Lyndon B Johnson School of Public Affairs
+1 512 471 8946, busbyj@mail.utexas.edu

Busby is the author of several studies on climate change, national security, and energy policy with expertise in global public health policy. He has previously offered perspective in the media on the World Health Organization's response to the Ebola and Zika crises. 

Media Contact: Tori Yu, victoriajyu@austin.utexas.edu, 512-232-4054

Lee Ann  Kahlor

Lee Ann Kahlor

Associate Professor , Department of Advertising , College of Communication
+1 512 791 5726, kahlor@austin.utexas.edu

Dr. Kahlor's primary research interest is in health and environmental risk communication with an emphasis on mass communication of complex science and information seeking (what brings people to seek information outside of formal schooling). Her most recent project, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, looks at the challenges scientists face in communicating research about indoor environmental microbiology.

She teaches courses on science communication, environmental communication and building environmental campaigns.

Media Contact: Nick Hundley, nick.hundley@austin.utexas.edu, 512-471-7209

Michael S Mackert

Michael S Mackert

Director, Center for Health Communication and Associate Professor , Department of Advertising , College of Communication
, mackert@utexas.edu

Dr. Mackert's primary research interest is telemedicine, the provision of healthcare from a distance via telecommunication technology. He is also interested in health communication, with a particular focus on how trust plays a role in the communication process. Other interests include health literacy and online communities. He has previously written about the importance of health literacy as it relates to the Zika virus. See more info here:

Media Contact: Nick Hundley, nick.hundley@austin.utexas.edu, 512-471-7209

Bill  Tierney

Bill Tierney

Professor of Population Health , Department of Population Health , Dell Medical School
+1 512 495 5006, tierney@utexas.edu

Dr. Tierney is a general internist and medical informaticist who came to the Dell Medical School after serving as President and CEO of the Regenstrief Institute, Inc., the country's oldest research institution dedicated to improving health systems.  Dr. Tierney's research focuses on improving health care delivery and its outcomes through developing and implementing electronic health record systems (EHRs) in hospital and outpatient venues in Indiana and in East Africa. 

Media Contact: Stephen Scheibal, stephen.scheibal@austin.utexas.edu, 512-495-5062

Bioscience


Andrew  Ellington

Andrew Ellington

Professor , Department of Molecular Biosciences , College of Natural Sciences
+1 512 232 3424, +1 512 471 6445, ellingtonlab@gmail.com

Tim Riedel is a researcher and faculty director of the Freshman Research Initiative's DIY Diagnostic Lab which is developing a do-it-yourself kit for testing whether mosquitos carry the Zika virus. See more information here:

Media Contact: Christine Sinatra, christine.sinatra@austin.utexas.edu, 512-471-4641

David L Herrin

David L Herrin

(Future) Professor , Department of Molecular Biosciences , College of Natural Sciences
+1 512 471 3843, +1 512 471 3844, herrin@utexas.edu

David Herrin is a professor of biology who is developing methods for mosquito population control by bioengineering mosquito-killing genes into algae strains that mosquito larvae eat. See more information here: 

Media Contact: Christine Sinatra, christine.sinatra@austin.utexas.edu, 512-471-4641

Lauren A Meyers

Lauren A Meyers

Professor , Department of Integrative Biology , College of Natural Sciences
+1 512 471 4950, laurenmeyers@austin.utexas.edu

Using a combination of mathematical modeling and experiments, Lauren's research lies at the interface of evolutionary biology and epidemiology. She studies the interplay between disease transmission dynamics and the evolution of pathogens including those responsible for epidemic meningitis, influenza, walking pneumonia, and SARS. In collaboration with public health officials in the US and Canada, Lauren has developed powerful mathematical methods for forecasting the spread of respiratory diseases and designing effective disease control strategies for hospitals and metropolitan areas. Based on this research, the MIT Technology Review named Lauren as one of the top 100 global innovators under age 35.

Media Contact: Christine Sinatra, christine.sinatra@austin.utexas.edu, 512-471-4641

Timothy E Riedel

Timothy E Riedel

Clinical Assistant Professor , College of Natural Sciences
+1 512 232 8346, triedel@utexas.edu

Tim Riedel is a researcher and faculty director of the Freshman Research Initiative's DIY Diagnostic Lab which is developing a do-it-yourself kit for testing whether mosquitos carry the Zika virus. See more information here:

Media Contact: Christine Sinatra, christine.sinatra@austin.utexas.edu, 512-471-4641

Sahotra  Sarkar

Sahotra Sarkar

Professor , Department of Philosophy , College of Liberal Arts
+1 512 232 3800, +1 512 232 7122, sarkar@austin.utexas.edu

Sahotra Sarkar is a professor of integrative biology and disease ecologist whose research models the spread of tropical diseases. He and his colleagues previously mapped the likely spread of the virus in 100 cities worldwide under two different scenarios and demonstrated that the spread depends on whether a second species of mosquito carries the virus. See more information here:

Media Contact: Rachel Griess, rachelgriess@austin.utexas.edu, 512-471-2689

Alexander L Wild

Alexander L Wild

Curator of Entomology , Department of Integrative Biology , College of Natural Sciences
+1 512 232 1896, alex.wild@utexas.edu

The Curator of Entomology at UT Austin Biodiversity Collections and noted insect photographer/ entomologist, Wild can speak about which types of mosquitoes carry the Zika virus and their characteristics. See more information here:

Media Contact: Christine Sinatra, christine.sinatra@austin.utexas.edu, 512-471-4641

Amy  Young

Amy Young

Professor of Women's Health , Department of Women's Health , Dell Medical School
, amyyoung@austin.utexas.edu
Spanish Speaker


A nationally known educator, Dr. Young is the immediate past president of the Association of Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics. She has served Texas as Vice-Chair and Chair of District XI of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. In addition to educational research, Dr. Young has a wide range of clinical research experiences. Recent publications include quality and hysterectomy, ambulatory gynecologic surgery, and surgical efficiency.

Media Contact: Stephen Scheibal, stephen.scheibal@austin.utexas.edu, 512-495-5062

For more information, contact: University Communications, Office of the President, 512-471-3151.