Virna Saenz was born and raised in Chimbote, Peru. She received her undergraduate degree in Agronomy from the Escuela Agricola Panamericana, Zamorano in Honduras. After finishing her undergraduate work, Virna worked with coffee farmers at the Honduras highlands helping the farmers to increase their yields and marketing strategies. Virna then pursued a Master's degree in Entomology at the University of Kentucky where she studied the oviposition behavior of tree-hole mosquitoes. Virna’s professional interests include studying arthropods that are vectors of human disease, as well as interacting with the public through teaching and outreach activities. In 2010, Virna was awarded the NC Pest Management Association Indoor Urban Scholarship. In 2011, Virna was one of two students who were the first recipients of the Entomology Department Teaching Fellowships. Last spring semester, she taught a General Entomology course for non major students, a course that was designed for people to learn how insects influence our lives. Teaching this course was one of her most rewarding experiences and she is very happy that her students still contact her with any insect related questions. For fun, Virna loves to go to the beach and enjoys running, horseback riding, reading, dancing and cooking.
Virna is pursuing a doctoral degree and studying bed bug population genetics, aggregation behavior and their potential for disease transmission. With her research she expects to elucidate patterns of introduction and dispersal of bed bug populations across the U.S. East coast and, on a more local scale, in apartment buildings. She is also interested on determining if bed bugs can transmit disease. Virna’s future career aspirations are to continue studying arthropod borne diseases on either academia or government institutions.