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Students dissecting mosquitos, tracking down malaria

Students from Whitman Middle School on Thursday learned a bit more about malaria research by perfecting a very specialized, if peculiar, skill — dissecting mosquitoes to remove their salivary glands. This was the latest class of recruits for Seattle BioMed’s BioQuest program.

Here are some of the young scientists at work, beginning with 12-year-old Emma Doherty. Another 6th grader featured later in this slide show can be seen grimacing as she watched an instructional dissection (which, frankly, looks more like what I would call a dismembering) of a mosquito on a display screen.

She later turned to her microscope and began pulling into pieces the skeeters, mumbling to herself: “This is disgusting.” But she was smiling.

Seatte BioMed is home to one of the world’s largest malaria research teams. One of their primary goals is to identify an effective vaccine against malaria. BioQuest typically gears its program toward high school students. These students were given special, advanced access as finalists in Whitman’s science fair.


About Author

Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at] or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.