Dr. Fernandez is a disease ecologist focused on the eco-epidemiology of zoonotic diseases, and in particular, vector-borne diseases. She graduated from the University of Buenos Aires with a BSc./MSc in biological science and completed her thesis on the molecular epidemiology of Trypanosoma cruzi in Northern Argentina, the causative agent of Chagas disease, at the laboratory of Dr. Ricardo Gürtler. Chagas disease is one of the main vector-borne disease affecting vulnerable populations in Latin America. Upon graduation in 2011, Dr. Fernandez received a doctoral fellowship from the Argentinean National Scientific and Technical Research Council to pursue her doctoral studies and research on Chagas disease transmission at the University of Buenos Aires, under the mentorship of Dr. Gürtler. Her PhD dissertation integrated traditional epidemiological research with an expanded perspective that includes eco-bio-social determinants, their eventual interactions, and spatial patterns of human infection risk in indigenous rural communities in Northern Argentina.
She defended her dissertation in 2017 and she moved to the United States the same year after being awarded the Earth Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship at Columbia University in New York City to conduct her postdoctoral research program at the laboratory of Dr. Maria Diuk-Wasser. During this time, she developed a research project on the eco-epidemiology of tick-borne diseases in the U.S., integrating the human dimension of disease transmission with the ecology of the enzootic transmission cycle.
In September 2020, Dr. Fernandez joined the Paul G. Allen School at WSU as an assistant professor. Her lab will continue her research on the ecology and epidemiology of zoonotic diseases, with a special interest in the emergence and persistence of vector-borne diseases in affected communities. Disease ecology is an interdisciplinary field and Dr. Fernandez strongly believes in collaborations across disciplines and organizations. She is always open for new partnerships to advance science and to find sustainable solutions to alleviate the burden caused by these diseases.