Tick warning notices, URI’s TickGuy knows there are ticks in more places and wants you to know, too.

Mather started researching ticks at URI in 1992 and was able to work in his own backyard — all over the state of Rhode Island. He now has a large-scale website, TickEncounter, that just last July was responsible for 15 percent of the entire web traffic to the University as one of more than 400 websites on URI’s web server. TickEncounter is a portal to tick expertise, as Mather describes the site, where people can conveniently find information they need exactly when they need it. Mather is particularly proud of one component of TickEncounter — a citizen-science project he calls TickSpotters, which enables people to submit photos of ticks they find, fill out a survey about the tick, and further share their experience in a comments box. The site has received more than 60,000 submissions. The next step for TickSpotters is to expand the program further and to receive data in a more accessible and collaborative form using a cloud-based customer relations management system, customized by NeuraFlash. Mather focuses on what he refers to as people’s lived experiences with ticks, and he believes this concept is the key to tick disease prevention. Mather describes a lived experience as the conditions under which a person encounters a tick, for example, while walking a dog, and he explains that lived experiences are partially unique to an individual while sharing some commonalities with others. By looking at people’s lived experiences, Mather can relate to them and better understand how to help protect them from tick-borne illnesses.

His work started at the source: people’s backyards, where he conducted workshops in high- risk neighborhoods and al lowed people to learn about ticks in a fami l iar place.

| 10 | The University of Rhode Island { Momentum: Research & Innovation }

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