Faculty forum to explore Zika virus: evolution, international impact

The 2016 Olympic Games held in Brazil were overshadowed by the Zika pandemic that had gripped the country since 2013. During that time, popular media became an outlet for disseminating concern about the health and well-being of international athletes competing in the games. The virus gained much attention because of its connection to microcephaly and other birth defects and how it is transmitted.

On Thursday, April 4, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s College of Liberal Arts and Education will host a faculty forum, “Mapping the Ecology of Fear: Mosquitoes, Tropics and Globalization,” in Room 136 Doudna Hall from 5-6:30 p.m. The forum will address issues related to the evolution of the Zika virus, analyze the use of social media and press as a vehicle for gaining and disseminating information and examine the historical relationship between tropical disease and international policy.

Dr. Lynnette Dornak, assistant professor of geography, and Dr. Melissa Gormley, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Education, will present the events and media surrounding the Zika epidemic. They will create an open forum to generate a conversation about why Zika received global attention when other diseases (some more devastating) draw less media coverage.

Dornak has taught at UW-Platteville since June 2014. She teaches courses in geographic information systems, Planet Earth, guided research and senior seminar. Her specialties include biogeography, ecological niche modeling, spatial analysis and remote sensing. Dornak holds a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in biology from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, and a Ph.D. in geography from the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas.

Gormley has served as interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Education since July 1, 2016. She began teaching at UW-Platteville in 2008, specializing in modern Latin American history, history of the Atlantic World, African Diaspora, world history and gender and women’s history. She earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts from San Francisco State University in California and a Ph.D. from the University of California-Davis.

The forum is free and open to university students, faculty, staff and community members. Refreshments will be served.

The LAE Faculty Forum Series, a program instituted in the fall of 2004, is sponsored by UW-Platteville’s College of LAE. The purpose of the forum is to allow faculty to present information in their research areas. Presenters tailor their presentations to a general audience.