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  • AAAG Student Prizes Awarded at 2013 AAPA Meeting

The AAAG awarded student prizes to Tamar Carter (University of Florida) and Kelly Harkins (Arizona State University) for their outstanding presentations in anthropological genetics at the 2013 meetings of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA) in Knoxville, Tennessee, US. Each award recipient received a $200 cash prize and a one-year subscription to Human Biology.

Tamar Carter

Tamar Carter is PhD candidate at the University of Florida Genetics and Genomics Program under the mentorship of Dr. Connie Mulligan (Department of Anthropology) and a UNCF/Merck Graduate Science Research Fellow. She received her B.S. from the University of Florida in Food Science and Human Nutrition in 2008. She is now studying malaria in southeast Haiti, focusing on parasite and human genetic factors that shape malaria prevalence and transmission as part of a collaboration with Dr. Bernard Okech (UF Department of Environmental and Global Health). Tamar’s dissertation includes two projects on: (1) antimalarial drug resistance in malaria parasites in Haiti and (2) human inherited traits that offer protection against malaria (i.e., sickle cell disease and G6PD deficiency). During her dissertation research, she has worked alongside physicians, researchers, and public health workers in multiple field, clinical, and laboratory settings in southeast Haiti as joint effort to contribute knowledge applicable to malaria prevention and treatment policy.

In addition to her PhD work, Tamar Carter is pursuing her Master in Public Health, with a concentration in epidemiology. During the summer of 2013, she was awarded a Dr. James A. Ferguson Emerging Infectious Diseases Fellowship at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over the course of her graduate career, Tamar has been awarded several additional fellowships and recognitions, including the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, UF Southeast Alliance for Graduate Education & the Professoriate Fellowship, and UF-Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science for Life Graduate Student Mentor Award. Her research has been presented at the American Association of Physical Anthropologists Annual Meeting and American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Annual Meeting and published in the Malaria Journal.

Presentation Title. Detection of sickle hemoglobin in febrile patients in Leogane, Haiti [End Page 507]

Presentation Authors. Tamar E. Carter, Michael Von Fricken, Connie J. Mulligan, Gladys Memnon, and Bernard A. Okech.

Abstract. Sickle cell disease and trait are common erythrocyte disorders that are caused by a mutation in the hemoglobin beta gene. Sickle cell trait (i.e. heterozygous for the sickle cell allele) is selectively advantageous against severe malaria. Haiti is a malaria-endemic country, yet little is known about the prevalence of sickle cell disease and trait in this country. The purpose of our study was to detect the presence of sickle cell disease and trait in Haiti, as part of a larger epidemiological study on malaria in Haiti. Sixty individuals at Hospital St. Croix were first screened for sickle hemoglobin using a solubility-based rapid diagnostic test (RDT), SickleHeme (Michlone Associates, INC). RDT solution turbidity, as an indicator of sickle hemoglobin, was assessed visually and with spectrophotometry. Samples were also genotyped for sickle cell mutations. Of the 62 individuals screened for hemoglobin S using the RDT kit, 11 (17.6%) were positive. Of the 11 RDT positive samples, only six actually carried the sickle cell mutation, and as a heterozygote only. All other samples carried the wildtype genotype. Additionally, we observed “clumping” behavior in some RDT assays after sitting for 8 hours, but only in sickle hemoglobin samples that were confirmed by genotyping. We conclude that that genotyping is the most accurate method to estimate sickle hemoglobin. However, genotyping is expensive and requires specialized equipment. Thus, the “clumping” observation in the RDT assays may be the best option for detecting sickle hemoglobin in Haiti and similar resource-limited regions

Kelly Harkins

Kelly “Fife” Harkins earned undergraduate degrees in music and archaeology from Skidmore College before arriving at ASU to begin the doctoral anthropology program with a focus on bioarchaeology. She has been a Fulbright Fellow at Austria’s Naturhistorisches Museum Wien, an archaeological field supervisor for the Merowe Dam Archaeological Salvage Project, an intern at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, and an intern at the American Museum of Natural History, serving as an...


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