Lee Rafuse Haines Associate Research Professor

Molecular Parasitology and Medical Entomology
Lee Rafuse  Haines

Research Interests:

Dr Haines holds a PhD in Tropical Medicine (University of Liverpool, UK), and an MSc in Biochemistry and Microbiology (University of Victoria, Canada). Her research focuses on diseases that are spread by arthropods, particularly the interrelationships between insects, their microbiota, and the pathogens they transmit. Under this umbrella, she has been involved in lab and field-based projects that range from basic to translational science.

Her research portfolio holds a variety of projects including investigating how gut bacteria impact the insect immune system and vectorial capacity, developing assays to measure the intensity of insect bites in humans, understanding the cues underlying tsetse breeding and maternal behaviors, surveying the prevalence of aquatic and veterinary parasites. Her research projects have extended into countries like Canada, the UK, Kenya, Uganda, and Saudi Arabia, where she maintains ongoing and valuable partnerships. She has also developed new collaborations with international institutions in Spain, Portugal, and South Africa. Furthermore, Dr. Haines closely collaborates with the Acosta-Serrano group on a project to repurpose herbicidal chemistries as new tools to control insect-borne diseases.

Lee has more than 20 years of experience with parasite culture and insect husbandry. She managed the largest operational tsetse breeding colony in the UK, and as a result, gained an in-depth knowledge of their biology, fitness traits and responses to bacterial and parasite infections. Her expertise further extends to rearing colonies of several mosquito species (Anopheles spp., Aedes aegypti), as well as triatomines (Rhodnius prolixus) and sand flies (Phlebotomus papatasi). She increased the value and impact of these insects by incorporating them into teaching modules wherever possible, so students had a unique first-hand experience with these disease vectors.


  • Associate Research Professor, Department of Biological Science, University of Notre Dame IN. 03/2023-Current
  • Senior Research Associate, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK. 01/2019-03/2023
  • Programme Manager, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK. 12/2015-01/2019
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK. 08/2010-11/2015


  • Doctor of Philosophy, Tropical Medicine, University of Liverpool - Liverpool, UK
  • Master of Science, Biochemistry and Molecular Parasitology, University of Victoria - Victoria, BC, Canada
  • Bachelor of Science, Biology, Trinity Western University - Langley, BC, Canada

Selected Professional Activities:

Public engagement has been at the forefront of my professional journey, as I am a passionate science ambassador and involved in events that showcase the wonders of insects and microbes to a variety of audiences. This has included activities like science festivals, public lectures, youth workshops, blogs, video narrations and radio shows. As a daughter of an artist, I am inspired by creative projects where science and art intersect. This has driven me to foster rich collaborations involving state-of-the-art macrophotography, insect-themed art installations, interactive science exhibitions, microbiology-inspired and artistic performances. I prioritize the integration of public engagement into my research and believes it to be an integral part of being a scientist.

I am also a tenacious advocate for underrepresented researchers in science, and believe in supporting and uplifting young scientists at all levels in STEM. I have taught insect biology-associated topics across all age groups and continue to be an award-winning mentor. Furthermore, as a mental health and wellbeing champion, I have supported my colleagues and students throughout my career and will continue to place highest priority on creating and sustaining an educational journey that braids both knowledge and creativity with continual awe.

Recent Papers: