Caymanian Student Learns About Mosquitoes as Intern at MRCU

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Summer student Iain Robertson shadows MRCU laboratory technician Zoila Ebanks.
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Caymanian student Iain Robertson, who plans to pursue a career in the sciences, spent time recently as an intern at the Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU).

Iain (18), a former pupil of Cayman Prep & High School, shadowed research manager Fraser Allen and laboratory technician Zoila Ebanks.

He was the first student to take part in a number of restructured internship opportunities being offered by MRCU.

His interest in mosquitoes runs in the family, as his maternal grandmother, Lucinda Cruickshank, was employed at MRCU from 1965 until 1977. She worked alongside staff including laboratory technician Nellie McCoy, who is still at MRCU after almost 50 years. The unit is proud of the longevity of its staff complement.

Now undertaking A-levels at Strathallan School in Perthshire, Scotland, Iain hopes to study science at either the University of St. Andrews, or the University of Edinburgh, in the U.K.

“We were delighted to have Iain join us and trust that the experience will help inspire him as he goes forward to study for a science career,” said Acting Director, MRCU, Nancy Barnard. “We live by the maxim ‘each one, teach one’ and so encourage other young Caymanians to apply for our internship opportunities to join incoming Chamber of Commerce mentee Jazmin Sanchez and two to three CIFEC interns, who will be selected shortly.”

MRCU is responsible for protecting residents and visitors from mosquito-borne diseases and the irritation of mosquito-biting. To achieve this, the unit employs a wide range of control techniques as part of a professional regime of integrated management. It also conducts scientific research with the aim of increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of control measures.

As a result, mosquito control in the Cayman Islands is a multi-disciplinary activity, combining expertise in insecticide application technology, mosquito biology and biochemistry, molecular biology, the dynamics of water/swamp interactions, as well as knowledge of pesticide regulatory protocols. Control operations must be conducted in a manner that is both environmentally responsible and beneficial to public health.

The activities of MRCU are essential in supporting the local tourist economy and in promoting a high quality of life in the Cayman Islands.

For information on potential student internships at MRCU, please email Ligia.Whitaker2@gov.ky

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