Luísa Reis Castro

Luísa Reis Castro

Luísa Reis Castro is a PhD student in the History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society (HASTS) program at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, USA. Her dissertation project investigates the relations between environment and health by researching the development and implementation of manipulated mosquitoes as a public health strategy in Brazil. Her inquiries concern the entanglements between insects and humans, citizens and technologies, public trials and commercial products, medical care and environmental risks, global health and local ecologies.

Luísa received her BA in Social Sciences at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil (2010). She obtained both her cum laude MSc in Cultures of Arts, Science and Technology (2012) and her cum laude MA in Studies on Society, Science and Technology (2011) at Maastricht University, the Netherlands. She has worked at the Spiral Institute at the Université de Liège, Belgium (2010-2012), and was a visiting student at the Instituto de Pesquisa em Riscos e Sustentabilidade, Brazil (2013), at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany (2013), and at the Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Sociale, France (2015). From 2012 to 2014 she was a Junior Researcher in the LOST group, and maintains her participation in the international LOST Network.

Current position
PhD Researcher
University affiliation
Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT)

Research

The research project investigates technologies for controlling mosquito-borne diseases as a window to discuss science and public health policies in Brazil. Amid economic recession and a tumultuous political process, Brazil has also been the epicenter of international concerns about mosquito-borne diseases. In 2015 the country faced puzzling Zika cases, with a possible link to microcephaly in newborns and Guillain-Barré syndrome in adults, as well as a rampant increase in cases and fatality rate on both dengue and chikungunya. Brazil declared “war against the Aedes aegypti mosquito”, the vector transmitting these three diseases, with the motto “a mosquito is not stronger than an entire country”. No preventive vaccine is being distributed in Brazil and there are no specific treatments for these diseases.

New scientific developments propose to control these diseases by manipulating the Aedes aegypti in a number of ways: (1) infection with a strain of bacterium called Wolbachia to hamper its ability to transmit viruses, (2) sterilization through irradiation, and (3) genetic engineering (GE) to limit its reproduction or development. Brazil is the only country in the world currently implementing these three strategies. Luísa combines approaches from history, anthropology, and science and technology studies to trace and analyze the possible social, scientific, and political transformations the implementation of these different strategies can provoke.

Publications

  • Reis-Castro, Luísa (2017) "The Underworlds Project and the “Collective Microbiome”: Mining Biovalue from Sewage." in Bioeconomies Life, Technology, and Capital in the 21st Century, 105-128 , edited by Vincenzo Pavone and Joanna Goven. Cham: Palgrave
  • Boëte, Christophe, Uli Beisel, Luísa Reis Castro, Nicolas Césard, and R Guy Reeves (2015) "Engaging scientists: an online survey exploring the experience of innovative biotechnological apporaches to controlling vector-borne diseases." in Parasites & Vectors 8 (1):414