Stpehanie Gati, 2013, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

This summer, I joined a research project, Disease Interactions in Malnourished Children (DIMAC), through Princeton’s department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Mpala Research Center in Laikipia, Kenya. This project examines the relationship between malnutrition and respiratory infections, focusing on the pastoralist communities of Northern Kenya. Over my two months in Kenya, I conducted 68 interviews with mothers of children under five years old about their children’s health, nutrition, vaccinations, socioeconomic status, and health-seeking behavior, and I measured the children for indicators of moderate to severe malnutrition. Over the next two years, these children will remain in the study for serological sampling, while the study evaluates the efficacy of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in malnourished children. From my interviews, I learned about the challenges that women and children face in obtaining proper food and health care in low-resource settings. In addition to the interviews, I collected medical records from four local clinics and hospitals, which will be used to determine seasonal fluctuations in the incidence of pneumonia and other respiratory infections. The data from the interviews and medical records will be analyzed in my senior thesis, looking at the interactions between malnutrition, vaccination, and incidence of respiratory infections.