Dr. Ciota is Deputy Director of the Arbovirus Laboratory, which performs testing, surveillance and research of arthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses). The lab studies both mosquito and tick-borne agents including the flaviviruses West Nile virus (WNV), Dengue virus, St. Louis encephalitis virus and Powassan virus, as well as alphaviruses Eastern equine encephalitis virus and Chikungunya virus, among others. The unique facilities which comprise the Arbovirus lab allow for extensive experimentation in a range of natural invertebrate and vertebrate hosts. Dr. Ciota’s primary research areas include arbovirus evolution and mosquito-virus interactions, with a focus on WNV and Culex spp. mosquitoes.
Specific studies include understanding WNV microevolution both within and among hosts and vectors, defining how specific interactions between viral and vector genomes influence transmissibility in distinct environments, defining the role of replicase fidelity on viral fitness and evolution, and identifying how unique microbial signatures influence vectorial capacity. The overarching goal of these studies is to gain a better understanding of the factors that shape patterns of arbovirus transmission and ultimately to influence novel public health interventions.