According to entomology professor Catherine Hill, the television show Game of Thrones and infectious diseases have more in common than one might think. In Hill’s universe, white walkers are mosquitos and ticks, small organisms capable of spreading deadly diseases like malaria, Zika, Lyme disease and other viruses. The only way to defeat the threat is to better understand how these diseases spread so the danger they pose to public health may be countered. Hill’s work takes her across the globe and across disciplines, from entomology to membrane biology, developing environmentally friendly insecticides and new vaccines.
An integral part of Hill’s work involves public education. Hill frequently offers advice on how to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds and how to better protect oneself from mosquitos and ticks. Hill is pioneering an approach that does not seek the complete elimination of mosquitos, ticks and other arthropods. Instead, she focuses on methods to stop the spread of disease without forcing populations, either bugs or humans, into extinction.
Hill, a native of Australia, received her Ph.D. from The University of Adelaide. Her research and work put her in contact with scholars, researchers and students internationally, giving her a comprehensive perspective on how vector-borne illnesses have impacted communities around the world. Committed to the idea of prevention through education, Hill frequently grants interviews to members of the media and scientific community.