Dr Zubaidah Binta Ya'cob

I hold a PhD Degree in Entomology from the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia since 2017. I started my career as a Research Fellow at Higher Centre of Excellence (HICoE) Tropical Infectious Diseases Research & Education Centre (TIDREC), University of Malaya. I was fortunate, not taken too long after three months I was directly appointed as permanent Senior Lecturer at the same institution until the present.  

During the three years of my PhD journey, I have received intensive training on black fly taxonomy from the world-class black fly taxonomist, Emeritus Professor Dr Hiroyuki Takaoka. I was also given a chance to get involved in the Asian Simuliidae Research Project which took me into the surveillance across the Asian countries (i.e. Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Taiwan) from 2010 until 2016.  The project has led to the novel finding on the discovery of 108 new black fly species to science and benefits researchers in the scientific community. All those skills eventually have immensely helped me in pursuing my current research in black fly biology and their associated pathogens. It has also brought me beyond borders. I was invited by the Taiwan Centre for Disease Control (CDC) to assist local researchers in the vector control project, which includes blackflies as one of the targets. This recognition has injected me with more confidence to continue with the same research outside endemic areas, where it most neglected and understudied. Such a broad new window has opened, I was accepted to be part of the international research group for detecting pathogens in the blackfly population in Cameroon. This collaboration together with the world-class researchers from outstanding institutions includes the University of Liverpool, New England Biolabs and Cameroon Academy of Science.

My research direction is currently on the biology of vectors and detecting their associated pathogens. I have broadened the scope of the vectors based on my interests. These include dipteran insects of the family Simuliidae and Culicidae as well as other arthropod ectoparasites of the vertebrate hosts, namely Aves (birds) and Chiropteran (bats). My on-going researches are on bionomic of vector blackfly and its pathogens and on detecting pathogens (i.e. scrub typhus) of aves’ ectoparasites (chiggers, ticks and mites). Future, I have a bigger plan for developing a comprehensive database consisting of detail characterization of all pathogens (parasites, bacteria and viruses) of vectors/hosts within my scope. Other than that, a continuous vector survey will be conducted to reveal the actual black fly biodiversity to uncover the vector species in unsurveyed areas within the SEA region. Most importantly, the first database for the blackfly parasite, Onchocerca spp., will be made available for the first time.

As a researcher at the early career stage, I would, therefore, love to work with other researchers and experts in the same research field from all over the world. I welcome researchers that interested in joining my research, especially those from developed countries with widely accessible to updated knowledge and technologies to complement limited sources in developing countries.