April 25, 2011 NASA Scientist Assaf Anyamba to Discuss "Predicting Disease Outbreaks from Space," May 18

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Science, Technology and Business Division (202) 707-5664 | NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (301) 614-6627

An early warning system more than a decade in development successfully predicted the 2006-2007 outbreak of the deadly Rift Valley Fever (RVF) in East Africa and subsequent outbreaks in Sudan (2007) and South Africa (2008-2011). RVF is a deadly hemorrhagic disease transmitted by mosquitoes that infects livestock and human populations episodically. An international team of research scientists, public-health professionals, agricultural specialists and military personnel had worked for a decade to successfully predict when and where an outbreak of RVF would occur.

NASA scientist Assaf Anyamba, an expert on using earth science satellite data to see links among weather, disease and famine, will discuss “Predicting Disease Outbreaks from Space” at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 18, in the Mary Pickford Theater on the third floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public; tickets are not required.

The illustrated lecture, the third in a series of programs in 2011, is presented through a partnership between the Library’s Science, Technology and Business Division and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. The partnership is in its fifth year.

“It is a great pleasure to have the opportunity to translate scientific data and analysis results into products that benefit global public health,”said Anyamba, associate research scientist with the Goddard Earth Sciences Technology Center at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, part of NASAGoddard Space Flight Center. Heused a blend of NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite measurements of sea surface temperatures, precipitation and vegetation cover to predict the RVF outbreak.

Anyamba received his undergraduate degree (1989) from Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya, in geography and economics and a master’s degree (1992) in geography from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. He received his doctorate (1997) in geography with a focus on Remote Sensing of Land Surface Patterns of ENSO from Clark University in Worcester, Mass. Anyamba’s research interests are in the extraction of climate-variability signals from remotely sensed vegetation measurements; drought pattern analysis; applications of remotely sensed data in agricultural monitoring, drought and famine early warning; and the links between climate and disease outbreaks.

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PR 11-088
ISSN 0731-3527