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  • Locations: Nairobi, Kenya
  • Program Terms: Summer
  • Budget Sheets: Summer
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Minimum GPA (Undergraduate): 2.5 Number of Credits Offered: 3-6
Eligible Population: 02 Sophomore, 03 Junior, 04 Senior, General Public, Graduate, Non-Degree Seeking Prerequisite: Yes
Type of Program: Faculty-led Click here for a definition of this term Area of Study: Global and Community Health
Minimum GPA (Graduate): 3.0 Open to non-Mason Students: Yes
Program Description:

Research Methods of Vector-borne Disease Surveillance

Kenya, Summer 2021

Kenya Summer von Fricken

Program Overview

The identification of emerging infectious diseases, 17% of which are vector-borne, is central to our ability to prevent, control, and respond to potential pandemic threats. Students participating in GCH 491 / GCH 591 Public Health Study Abroad - Research Methods of Vector-borne Disease Surveillance, will travel to Laikipia, Kenya to participate in an intensive, hands on learning experience studying mosquito and tick vectors of East Africa. The course is structured around ongoing research Dr. Mike von Fricken is participating in, with collaborating with partners in Kenya (Mpala Research Centre) and at the Smithsonian Institution (Global Health Program). Students will spend 12 days living and working on protected Kenyan conservation ranches being trained in field and lab techniques specific to vector-borne disease surveillance, while offering students an opportunity to interact directly with local communities and researchers at the Mpala Research Centre (MRC) and the Smithsonian Institution (SI). We will examine the biological, social, and environmental risk factors of disease exposure in an international setting, conduct field surveillance and sampling, learning practical public health skills that are in demand in health departments and research labs. 

The study abroad portion of the course, students will engage in trapping and dragging for mosquitoes and ticks within ecologically protected grasslands, learn how to identify important vectors of disease based on morphological characteristics, and take part in ongoing surveillance efforts being carried out in Kenya. Prior to leaving, students will receive instruction on how to properly assembly field materials, such as tick drags and mosquito traps, as well as participate in virtual modules regarding safety and pre-departure training. Having the opportunity to work directly in an international setting will improve students’ cultural competency, help build research confidence, and reiterate the importance of understanding the drivers behind emerging diseases. While on site, student assignments will be related to following preparation procedures when setting and deploying traps, properly using safe and methodically sound practices in the field, maintaining accurate recordings of data and geolocations, and communicating results through oral and written presentations. Additionally, Dr. von Fricken will arrange opportunities for students to tour lab space, travel to wildlife sanctuaries, hear directly from vector-borne disease experts at MRC, and observe Kenyan wildlife in their natural habitat. These on-site activities will provide students with a unique set of marketable skills desirable to graduate programs in public health, medicine, biology, environmental science, veterinary health, and research in general. This curriculum has been fine-tuned after running two consecutive years through the GEO as a Global Discovery program and has trained over 40 students from across different colleges and disciplines.

Program Highlights: 

  • Field research & tick collection at Mpala Research Center
  • Mt. Kenya Hike & Bongo Conservancy visit
  • Visit to a hippo pool
  • Participation in Zombie Outbreak Scenarios


All undergraduate and graduate students are welcome to apply including students who do not attend George Mason University. Minimum 2.5 GPA for undergraduate and a 3.0 GPA for graduate. 

  • Undergrad (12 student cap) – completed 30 credit hours
  • Grad (6 student cap) – completed 6 credit hours
  • Application requirements – This opportunity is primarily for students interested in international research and infectious diseases, letters of intent from interested students are required while applying to study abroad trip.

6 Credits

Course Options

6 undergrad credits: 

  • GCH 491 Public Health Study Abroad – Research Methods of Vector-borne Disease Surveillance in Kenya

3 grad credits:

  • GCH 591 Public Health Study Abroad – Research Methods of Vector-borne Disease Surveillance in Kenya

Tentative Program Dates: 

Travel will occur at beginning of August 2021

Tentative Itinerary 

Date Daily Schedule
Day 1 Depart Washington D.C. (IAD) on group flight
Day 2 Arrive to Nairobi (NBO)| Depart for Nanyuki and arrive at Old House Hotel in Nanyuki | purchase groceries for the trip
Day 3 Depart for Mpala, with bried orientation and tour upon arrival | afternoon lecture PREDICT program | evening visit to Hippo Pool and observe bats emerging from caves
Day 4 Training on vector sampling, followed by risk disease interface | afternoon collection of ticks & Mosquitoes on Mpala campus
Day 5 Visit neighboring communities: meet with elders, collect ticks from cattle & camels | evening lecture – Zombie Outbreak scenarios
Day 6 Depart to Mt. Kenya for a hike| afternoon Bongo Conservancy public health tour
Day 7 Field collection of ticks, mosquitoes and feces | evening Lecture - Presentation from Mpala local researcher
Day 8 Stay at River Camp | Check CDC light traps and field collection of ticks | afternoon lecture – Walking lecture on vegetation | evening heavy mosquito sampling and trapping
Day 9 Stay at River Camp | Check CDC light traps and field collection of ticks | evening heavy mosquito sampling and trapping and Bush campfire
Day 10  Depart River camp | Morning and afternoon – field collection of ticks | evening – identification and processing of all samples
Day 11 Field collection of tick, mosquitos, and feces | evening – identification & processing of all samples, local presentations
Day 12 Finish processing samples, preparing for transport, and rest | evening final debriefing and pack for early departure
Day 13 Group flight from Nairobi back to Washington D.C. (IAD)

 * Dates and itinerary subject to change. The Global Education Office reserves the right to make changes to a program in light of currency fluctuations, changing security and safety conditions, and/or any other unforeseen circumstances.

Program Cost

Summer 2021: $4,250

The Program Cost for study abroad courses is assessed separately from Mason tuition and fees. This means separate charges will be put on your student account for this course, a study abroad tuition charge and a study abroad program fee charge which together equal the published Program Cost for this course. 
  • ​Tuition for 6 credits
  • Entrance fees/tours/guides as described in itinerary
  • In-country transportation
  • International emergency medical insurance
  • Round-trip Airfare Washington DC - Nairobi
  • Group meals
Not included: Passport and visa fees, COVID-19 testing in the U.S. before departure, COVID-19 testing while abroad, vaccinations, required textbooks and/or course materials

NOTE: Information regarding arrival times and location will be sent out to all participants after the application deadline. Do not purchase airfare until you receive the "Green Light for Flights" notice from the Global Education Office via email. The notice will include information on the arrival/departure airports, flight times, and where to meet the group. Students who fail to follow the guidelines GEO sends out will be responsible for applicable costs of changing their flights and/or costs associated with arriving prior to the start of the program.
When the time comes to purchase airfare, GEO will recommend the purchase of Flight Interruption and Cancellation Insurance. The “Green Light for Flights” email will provide additional information about this insurance.
Program Payments:
Students on MasonGEO programs must pay the advertised program cost in order to participate. This cost will be made in three payments (Deposit + First Payment + Final Payment). Students using financial aid can provide additional paperwork in lieu of deposit and final balance payments. All payments and charges are reflected in the student’s Mason Student Account.

Application Deposit: A non-refundable program deposit $200 must be received by the application deadline. This fee is paid online through the MasonAbroad application system and is included in the program fee.

First Payment: A non-refundable payment of $1000 must be received by March 20, 2021. This fee is paid online through the MasonAbroad application system and is included in the program fee. Students who are using financial aid may have this payment deadline extended. See "Financial Aid" information below.

In the event that a student’s financial aid or VA Benefits is estimated to cover the entire costs of the study abroad program, the entire charge will be posted to their student account, since that is where the aid will be applied. In this case students do not pay their first payment through MasonAbroad. However students must submit their “Intent to Use Financial Aid” form by the first deposit deadline.​

Final Payment: The final balance payment is due by April 10, 2021. This is the difference of your Program Cost minus the $1200 you've already paid (Deposit + First Payment). Students who are using financial aid may have this payment deadline extended. See "Financial Aid" information below.

Financial Aid and VA Benefits: Students who intend to use financial aid or VA benefits to fund their program fees (partially or in full) must have the "Intent to Use Financial Aid" or "Intent to Use VA Benefits Form" completed and on file with the Global Education Office by the First Payment deadline. The Office of Financial Aid is unable to assess if a student will have aid available for summer until mid to late February. The "Intent to Use Financial Aid" and "Intent to Use VA Benefits" forms are available in the MasonAbroad application system once the office of financial aid can review aid for this program. 

* Students must be enrolled at least half-time for federal loans and the majority of grant funds. Please refer to the Financial Aid Website for a definition of half-time for undergraduate and graduate students:

Withdrawal and Refund Policy: All participants are bound by the Mason GEO Withdrawal and Refund Policy.

Payment Instructions

For more information on payments, financial aid, and information for non-Mason students:


GEO offers a number of need- and merit-based scholarships. All Mason students are welcome to apply:


Application Deadline:

March 10


Application requirements:*

Program Deposit: $200 for all applicants.

Course Selection Questionnaire: You will choose the course(s) you would like to be receive credit for on this program. Check the "Academics" tab to see what courses are offered on this program. If you need help selecting your course, check with your academic advisor.

Passport Status Questionnaire: You do not need a passport to complete this questionnaire or the application. However, if you do not have a valid passport, you should begin applying for one now. The Global Education Office offers Passport Grants to help.

Signature Documents: Read and electronically "sign" the documents regarding the acknowledgement of risk, the pre-departure orientation, and your financial responsibility.Application requirements:* 

Intent to Use Financial Aid Form: For Mason students only. If you use financial aid, this form must be completed by your financial aid counselor and submitted by the 1st payment deadline. The Office of Financial Aid is unable to assess if a student will have aid available for summer until mid to late February.

Additional requirements for non-Mason applicants:

Official transcript:
To be mailed or emailed to the Global Education Office at George Mason University.

Non-degree Contract Course/Admission Form: Please complete the form and upload it into the questionnaire.
* Additional application requirements may apply to individual programs. Once you open your application, you will see all application requirements.
Application instructions:

Academic Director


Mike Von Fricken, MPH, PhD

GEO Program Administrator

Allie Wallace

Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.

This program is currently not accepting applications.