I have a passion for animals and the outdoors and am fascinated with the world of infectious diseases. This passion led me to the University of California Davis for a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science and Zoology and then Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine (DVM, 1996) in wildlife and international conservation medicine. I have worked with a spectrum of wildlife species including large carnivores, hoofstock, elephants, mesocarnivores, rodents, bats, and numerous avian and reptile species. A field investigation on African elephants ignited my passion to work as an international field researcher and I completed a PhD in epidemiology (2011) emphasizing wildlife epidemiology and infectious diseases (emerging, zoonoses, vector-borne, disease ecology). I worked with Janet Foley and conducted international field research on tick-borne pathogens in a population of Mongolian reindeer. Specifically, this PhD research investigated tick-borne diseases in reindeer and domestic ungulates that interface in a dramatic taiga and grassland-forest steppe landscape. My findings showed that there is a high prevalence of tick-borne pathogens in these animals, particularly in the reindeer. The next research step is to investigate tick-borne pathogens in ticks and small mammal hosts and understand the disease ecology of tick-borne infections in these ecosystems. This research collaboration with Dr. Foley contributes to our knowledge of tick-borne diseases in remote landscapes and provides data identifying the extent of tick-borne pathogens across the Pacific Rim.
Professionally I want to focus on field and laboratory research implementing the ‘one health’ and ‘ecosystem health’ paradigms to advance health in wildlife and domestic species, as well as the habitats in which animals and people live. In addition, I would like to train students in epidemiology, ecosystem health, and the newly defined global and one health sciences that link these disciplines.
Currently I hold a postdoctoral position modeling vector-borne pathogens and infectious diseases in Mongolian reindeer with the Center for Animal Disease Modeling and Surveillance & Global Health Institute, UCD.