Laboratory space is currently located in building CLB3 on the UNLV Main Campus. The lab location is directly north of the UNLV Lied Library on E. Harmon Ave


The PARAVEC Laboratory was established in 2022 to provide expertise in medical parasitology and medical and veterinary entomology to regional Public Health authorities and global policy makers, actively engaged in the control of vector-borne diseases.


PARAVEC utilizes a One Health approach encompassing multiple aspects of human, animal, and environmental health to study infectious diseases and disease-transmitting vectors. The PARAVEC Laboratory also has a strong focus on teaching and mentoring the next generation of highly enthusiastic parasitologists and entomologists, in an array of field sampling and advanced molecular techniques.


The laboratory is sectioned into three spaces: (1) a morphology lab (CLB-135) that specializes in microscopy, dissection, field sampling, and sample preparation; (2) a molecular lab (CLB-144) that specializes in PCR, genomics, diagnostic assay development, and large-scale disease surveillance; and (3) a shared workspace (CLB-141) with an insect rearing chamber, freezers, and sample storage area.


Dr. Messenger & Cross in the PARAVEC molecular lab (photo: Steve Marcus)
Dr. Cross and Dr. Messenger field sampling at Wetlands Park, Las Vegas, NV
Dr. Cross & Dr. Messenger holding a collection of triatomine bugs submitted to the lab by citizen science partners as part of a Chagas disease project (Photo: Steve Marcus). This project is being led by Dr. Messenger and Dr. Oxborough in the PARAVEC Lab along with Mr. Evan Teal and Dr. Cross.

Current Students & Research Collaborators

PARAVEC has a team of UNLV undergraduate and graduate students as well as research collaborators of all experience levels
Joseth Espinoza

Joseth Espinoza (BSPH)

Undergraduate Student

Joseth Espinoza is an honors college student currently attending the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He intends to earn his bachelor’s degree with a major in public health and a minor in biology during the Spring of 2025. After earning his bachelor’s degree, Joseth plans to attend graduate school and earn further qualifications within the field of public health. He intends to eventually earn a career that allows him to monitor the pathology and trends of zoonotic diseases. He is particularly interested in the topic of preventing and controlling the spread of vector-borne diseases.

Miklo Alcala (MPH)

Miklo Alcala (MPH)

Master's Student

Miklo Alcala completed his B.A. in Anthropology and now is a Master of Public Health student with a concentration in Environmental & Occupational Health at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Before becoming a Recruitment Coordinator for the School of Public Health, he was an Evaluation Associate/Graduate Assistant under the CDC Public Health Disparity Grant, where he was able to gain experience with report writing, community outreach, and qualitative and quantitative analyses. His internship program in the summer of 2023 was with the LEAP Program at the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine. He led a project to create an emergency management plan for the medical school. He previously worked as a contact tracer during the COVID-19 pandemic, and has been interested in research since undergraduate school. He is currently working on his thesis research, “PARAVEC Urban Dog Park Parasite Study.”

Angelica Avisado (MPH)

Master's Student
Katie collecting water samples

Katherine Major (MPH)

Master's Student

Katharine Major is a Master of Public Health student in the Epidemiology and Biostatistics concentration at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She received her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of New Mexico. During her undergraduate career, she actively participated in various research projects through the COSMIAC Research Center and the AIM Center of Biomedical Research Excellence, which resulted in two published works. She is currently completing her thesis research on the development of environmental DNA (eDNA) techniques to survey arbovirus vector species in southern Nevada.

Karen hiking

Karen Lorena Figueroa Chilito (PhD, UNLV)

Doctoral Student

Karen is a doctoral student in Public Health at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), with a concentration in Global and Environmental health. She's currently a graduate research assistant in the ParaVec Lab, where she works on projects related to mosquito surveillance and disease research under the guidance of Dr. Louisa Messenger and Dr. Chad Cross.

Karen has a bachelor's degree in Economics from Universidad Nacional de Colombia and a Master's degree in Data Science from the University of Texas at Austin, where she developed her passion for using Machine Learning to solve real-world problems in diverse topics but especially in vector-borne diseases. She is interested in developing innovative data-driven solutions to address mosquito-borne diseases, such as malaria, dengue, leishmaniasis, and chikungunya, which disproportionately affect marginalized populations in low- and middle-income countries.

Beyond her academic and research commitments, Karen enjoys spending time with her dog, Robbie, hiking in the desert, and dancing salsa. She also loves art, sketching, painting, learning about astronomy, developing her programming skills, and visiting natural reserves.

Bethanie Pelloquin

Bethanie Pelloquin (PhD, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)

Doctoral Student

Bethanie is a student on the Joint PhD Programme in Global Health, a partnership between the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Nagasaki University. Her research focusses on using Next Generation Sequencing to further understand the molecular mechanisms of insecticide resistance in Anopheles mosquitoes from Sub-Saharan Africa (Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Guinea and Benin). Bethanie's research methods include fieldwork, lab work and bioinformatics. She has a particular interest in the mosquito microbiota and its association with the resistance phenotype.

jackie martin

Jackline Martin (PhD, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)

Doctoral Student

Jackline is medical entomologist with ten years’ experience in evaluation of vector control tools. She has extensive experience in field entomology, collection methods and testing. She is currently holding a position with the Kilimanjaro Christina Medical University College and National Institute of Medical research in Tanzania under the umbrella of the Pan African Malaria Research Consortium. She has been working on a large randomized controlled trial assessing the efficacy of next generation of bed nets to control malaria in area of pyrethroid resistance, Tanzania. She leads the entomological monitoring of Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS), quality control and study of mosquito behaviour using tracking system at National Institute for Medical Research, Mwanza centre. She was also involved in evaluation of efficacy of Olyset Plus relative to standard Olyset net (pyrethroid only) conducted in Muleba Tanzania from 2014.
Jackline is a PhD student in infectious disease department at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), based in Tanzania. She holds a Bachelor degree in Biology and MSc degree in medical entomology and parasitology from the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical University college.

Wondemeneh Mekuriaw (PhD, Addis Ababa University, Dr. Messenger & Dr. Cross on committee)

Doctoral Student
Austin Tang (BSPH)

Austin Tang (BSPH)


Austin Tang is a fourth-year undergraduate student studying public health. He has experience in various research settings from when he was a research assistant for the UNLV Smoke-Free Policy Evaluation project until he became an RA for a neurogenetics laboratory running gene expression assays. Austin is passionate about pursuing research and plans on continuing his education at the UNLV School of Public Health as a graduate assistantship in the MPH program. His ultimate goal is to become a general dentist advocating for oral health in community clinics and nonprofits. Austin's research interests lie in the environmental factors that contribute to resistance among bacteria and arthropods.

Zoee Sanchez

Zoee Sanchez, MPH&TM

Research Collaborator

Zoee Sanchez is a recent graduate from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. She has spent the past year working on community education and engagement with Chagas Disease vector control programs for the Laboratorio de Investigacion de Enfermedades Zoonoticas based in Arequipa, Peru. Her interests include neglected tropical diseases, international public health, and the One Health approach.

Evan Teal, MS

Evan Teal, MS

Research Collaborator

Evan Teal is a research assistant at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, where he conducts work on the surface proteins of Trypanosoma cruzi (the etiological agent of Chagas disease). His previous work at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine investigated the microbiome of the endemic vector of Chagas Disease in the eastern United States, Triatoma sanguisuga. His current interests are predominately understanding the behavior, and molecular epidemiology of southwestern species of triatomines and the epidemiological implications of these insects.

Dr. Richard Oxborough

Dr. Richard Oxborough, Ph.D., MSc

Research Collaborator

Dr. Richard Oxborough has 15 years of experience conducting mosquito research, primarily evaluating the efficacy of mosquito nets and indoor residual spraying formulations for malaria control as part of a drive to produce new tools to combat insecticide resistance. He has extensive experience leading malaria vector control research and monitoring throughout sub-Saharan Africa and has published more than 40 peer reviewed publications. Dr. Oxborough retains a strong interest in neglected tropical diseases and has contributed to WHO guidelines related to schistosomiasis control. He is currently involved in Chagas disease research with the PARAVEC laboratory of UNLV.

steven dai

Steven Dai

Research Collaborator

Steven Dai is a senior currently attending Clark High School in Las Vegas, NV. He plans to study entomology and related fields like biology in college. He hopes to be able to research insect-related diseases and work on conservation projects. Some topics of interest include the use of scorpion venom against diseases and REM sleep in jumping spiders.

Lab PIs

The PARAVEC Lab is co-run by two UNLV professors. See the Lab PI page in the menu for more information.
Dr. Louisa Messenger

Dr. Louisa A. Messenger

I am a molecular parasitologist/entomologist with more than 15 years of experience in international public health, specializing in the control of vector-borne diseases, primarily malaria and Chagas disease (American Trypanosomiasis).

My interests broadly align with two areas: the development and evaluation of innovative vector control interventions and the application of basic science techniques to improve vector-borne disease surveillance and management strategies.

My current research agenda focuses on generating robust epidemiological and entomological evidence to develop World Health Organization (WHO) policy recommendations for the use of dual-active ingredient (dual-A.I.) long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) for malaria control, as part of large-scale cluster randomised-controlled trial (cRCTs) in East (Tanzania) and West (Benin and Côte d’Ivoire). I also support wider surveillance of molecular and metabolic insecticide resistance mechanisms in major mosquito vector species across East (Ethiopia, Tanzania), West (Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea) and Central (Democratic Republic of the Congo) Africa, to inform the impact of next-generation control tools on resistance selection and management in areas of pre-existing or incipient resistance.

Dr. Chad Cross

Dr. Chad L. Cross

I maintain a very active and simultaneously very broad research agenda. Embedded within all areas of my research are how we can utilize appropriate quantitative methods to understand complex phenomena. Much of current work is centered on parasitology and vector biology in the context of One Health, the multivariate intersection of human medicine, animal medicine, and the environment.


Keep up to date!

26 March 2024

Dr. Messenger joins a podcast to discuss the importance of legislation on the fight against malaria https://johnshopkinsmalariaminute.libsyn.com/extended-from-lab-to-legislature-meet-the-scientists-taking-on-capitol-hill-in-the-fight-against-malaria

Get in Touch

Please emal the lab with any questions or comments at paravec@unlv.edu. Find us on Linkedin, Instagram, Facebook, and X @UNLVPARAVEC

Find us in the lab

Laboratory space is currently located in building CLB3 on the UNLV Main Campus. The lab location is directly north of the UNLV Lied Library on E. Harmon Ave.

Give us a ring

Dr. Louisa A. Messenger
Dr. Chad L. Cross