Kurtis Sobkowich

Photo of Kurtis Sobkowich in front of a blurred green background.
HQP Scholar
Primary Faculty Advisor: 
Olaf Berke
Department of Population Medicine

Kurtis grew up in Grimsby, Ontario on a family horticultural farm. In 2018 he graduated from the Bachelor of Science program at Queen’s University in Life Sciences. Kurtis chose the University of Guelph to complete his Master’s of Science degree in epidemiology because of the unique atmosphere brought on by the veterinary college. Coming from a university with a strong human medicine focus, Kurtis felt that furthering his education at an institution concentrated on animal and environmental health would challenge and broaden his epidemiological knowledge and highlight the importance of One Health. Kurtis completed his undergraduate thesis project in partnership with Public Health Ontario and the Beaty Water Research Centre, exploring the geographical influences of E. coli in well water. Looking to further pursue spatial epidemiological methods, Kurtis sought the supervision of Dr. Olaf Berke. Under the supervision of Dr. Berke, Kurtis is now researching and identifying spatial and temporal patterns of Varroa destructor (Varroa mite) infestations within apiaries of Ontario. Through mapping and spatio-temporal regression analysis, the goal of his project is to identify and explore major risk factors leading to mite infestations and in turn colony death. His project will ultimately involve the development of an online dashboard to communicate these findings and further monitor the status of varroa in Ontario. Through the HQP program, Kurtis is most eager to gain hands-on exposure in the agri-food industry and the network of agencies that support it. Currently, Kurtis is working on exploring the impacts of climate and landscape factors on the prevalence of varroa in managed apiaries.