Dr. Hurwitz's Lab

Dr. Ivy Hurwitz's lab consists of a group of researchers with diverse expertise in multiple fields including virology, microbiology, parasitology, molecular biology/biochemistry, entomology, medicine, computer science and engineering. Our mission is the enhancement of public health at the local, the state, national and international level through our collective and continuous research progress.

Larvicide for Mosquito Population Control 

Mosquito-borne diseases are an urgent global health concern. The most common method for controlling vectors for Dengue, Chikungunya, yellow fever, Zika (Aedes mosquito), and West Nile (Culex mosquito) is with the use of synthetic pesticides. Unfortunately, pesticide applications in most environments are difficult to control and indiscriminate in action, potentially harming humans, animals, and beneficial insect species. 

Larval source management requires the application of pesticides to water reservoirs, which carries the risk for contamination of potable water sources. The increasing development of resistance to pesticides, as well as the threat to non-target species, necessitate the need for novel methods for larval source management. 

Essential oils (EO) are lethal to mosquito larvae at low concentrations (<50 ppm), but are not toxic to mammals. When directly applied to water, EO have been effective against Aedes and Culex larvae in laboratory settings. However dispersed oils would disrupt the aquatic environment and have the potential for adverse effects on non-target species. 

We have developed larvicides using EO encapsulated in Baker's yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). These EO loaded microcapsules are ingested by mosquito larvae, enabling killing at lower EO concentrations that oil dispersed directly into aquatic environment.

This product was demonstrated to effectively control Aedes aegypti larvae at low concentrations with minimal environmental toxicity. The product is currently being field tested by collaborators at Fiocruz, Brazil. A patent for this product was recently issued.


(Susie's stuff)


(Lauren/Shahad's stuff)


Our teams prompt response to combating the COVID-19 pandemic lies in the nature of our work that centered in fighting against various types of infectious diseases.  Under the leadership of Dr. Douglas J. Perkins, Professor of Medicine and Director of the Center for Global health, we acted quickly in mid-February of 2020 to prioritizing our efforts in tackling challenges to the healthcare system in our University and the New Mexico State, including: 1) developing methodologies to decontaminate PPE (specifically N95 respirators) for the safe reuse by frontline healthcare personnel; 2) monitoring potential SARS-CoV-2 virus contamination in the University hospital setting by checking SARS-CoV-2 virus RNA level in fomites; 3) participating in multiple clinical trials of COVID-19 patient treatments as well as the investigation of natural history of COVID-19 in hospitalized patients.

Larvicide Publications

Workman, MJ, Gomes B, Weng J-L, Ista LK, Jesus CP, David MR, Ramalho-Ortigao M, Genta FA, Matthews SK, Durvasula R and Hurwitz I. (2020). Yeast-encapsulated essential oils as an environmentally friendly larvicide. Parasit Vector 13:19.

Brant F, Gomes B, Jesus CP, Workman MJ, Hurwitz I, David M, Genta FA. (2019). The impact of yeast-encapsulated orange oil in Aedes aegypti oviposition preference. Oral presentation at 68th annual American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, National Harbor, MD.

Covid Publications

Bradfute SB, Hurwitz I, Yingling A, Ye C, Cheng Q, Noonan TP, Raval JS, Sosa NR, Mertz GJ, Perkins DJ, Harkins MS. SARS-CoV-2 Neutralizing Antibody Titers in Convalescent Plasma and Recipients in New Mexico: An Open Treatment Study in COVID-19 Patients. Journal of Infectious Diseases. Journal of Infectious Diseases. 2020 Oct 13;222(10):1620-1628. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiaa505.

Perkins DJ, Villescas S, Wu T, Mueller T, Bradfute S, Hurwitz I, Cheng Q, Wilcox H, Weiss M, Bartlett C, Langsjoen J, Seidenberg COVID-19 Global Pandemic Planning: Decontamination and Reuse Processes for N95 Respirators. Experimental Biology and Medicine. 2020 Jun;245(11):933-939. PMID: 32397762.