Prior to my graduate studies, I conducted research with APOPO, a non-profit organization that trains African giant pouched rats (Cricetomys ansorgei) for humanitarian scent-detection applications. For the past twenty-five years,
APOPO has trained pouched rats to detect landmines in post-conflict zones in Africa and Southeast Asia thereby directly preventing exposure to trauma. More recently, APOPO has trained rats to detect the world’s deadliest infectious disease, tuberculosis (TB), in human sputum samples. By applying this innovative solution to these global issues, APOPO has found and destroyed over 100,000 explosive remnants of war and identified over 14,000 additional cases of TB that were initially missed by local health clinics.
Under the direction of Dr. Cindy Fast, I conducted research that informed and optimized current training procedures and developed novel scent-detection applications. Fun fact: Cindy and I are both alumni of Albion College and met when she was awarded a Young Alumni Award!