Lead Dawg: Annie Rich Thompson

Mosquito Maven

Annie Rich Thompson (BSA – Animal Science, ’14; BSA – Biological Science, ’15; MSA – Entomology, ’18) developed a love of agriculture and animals by watching her dad, a veterinarian.

A native of Chattanooga, Tennessee, Thompson and her family lived in Thailand during her formative years — ages 5 to 12 — while her father taught agricultural programs. When the family returned to the U.S. and settled in Texas, Thompson became involved in 4-H and FFA.

“I wanted to be a biologist or a vet because my dad was a vet,” she said. “Growing up, there were always animals around me.”

She chose to double major in biological sciences and animal science because of her love for working with livestock. Wanting more experience outside of the classroom, Thompson landed a student job in CAES entomology Professor Nancy Hinkle’s lab.

She would go in to work at 6 a.m., counting mites on the rear-ends of chickens, says Thompson, whose goal is to work with disease-carrying and nuisance pests of animals and humans.

During her graduate education, Thompson worked on dairy and beef farms and in poultry houses studying a wide variety of insects from darkling beetles to ticks and biting flies.

“Veterinary entomologists are somewhat rare. I decided to go the master’s route and do research all the while,” said Thompson, whose master’s research focused on the use of cattle to fight malaria.

Now a public health entomologist in Georgia’s public health District 6 in Richmond County, she performs mosquito surveillance and education in cooperation with state entomologists. Her goal is to encourage environmentally responsible mosquito management throughout the state.

“We only treat if we determine there is a reason to; we plan based on what we find,” she said. “We work to empower property owners to protect themselves and not create mosquito larval sites on their property. This job is perfect, as half of my heart is in education and research and the other half belongs to entomology.” 

By Sharon Dowdy Cruse

Annie Rich Thompson
Annie Rich Thompson works to protect populations from mosquitos. (Photo contributed)