J.D. Wheat Veterinary Orthopedic Research Laboratory


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Tanya Garcia-Nolen, BS, MS

Tanya is the biomedical engineer and lab manager for the musculoskeletal biomechanics research, imaging services and the gait lab.

Alice Wong, PhD

Alice is the lab manager and research scientist for the cellular & molecular biology research.

Kerstien "Kas" Padgett, PhD

Kas is a research associate and lab manager for Dr. Vidal's research.

Laurie Bohannon-Worsley, BS, DVM

Laurie is a research associate for equine orthopedic research projects.

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Peta Hitchens, MVPHMgt, PhD

Peta is a Postdoctoral Scholar conducting epidemiological research under the horse Racing Injury Prevention Program, funded by the California Horse Racing Board. Peta's research interests are focused on racehorse and jockey health, safety and welfare. Peta completed her PhD, on the epidemiology of jockey falls, injuries and fatalities, at the Menzies Research Institute Tasmania, Australia in July 2011. In a novel contribution to the field, she identified factors associated with falls and injuries to Thoroughbred racing jockeys in both flat and jumps racing. Her findings have influenced change to industry policy and practice.

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Erin McKerney, BS, DVM

Erin is a veterinarian performing research and analysis for the horse Racing Injury Prevention Program. She completed her veterinary degree at UC Davis, then completed an clinical internship at Peninsula Equine Medical Center in Menlo Park, CA where she received advanced training in sport horse medicine. Erin’s professional interests include internal medicine, sports medicine, imaging and integrative medicine.

Elizabeth Collar, BS, DVM

Liz is a veterinarian performing research and analysis for the horse Racing Injury Prevention Program. She completed her veterinary degree in Minnesota, then completed an equine surgical internship at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. Her future plans include completing a masters degree and equine surgical residency, with a special interest in working with racehorses.

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Crystal Tjhia, BS, PhD

Crystal is a biomedical engineer who is developing a computer program to summarize the exercise histories for the horse Racing Injury Prevention Program. She is also analyzing microCT images of lesions in proximal sesamoid bones.

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Shannon Mitchell

As the lab's resident design and web geek diva, Shannon is immersed in all aspects of web and e-learning design and development. She is equally happy working on a new design or getting down and dirty with some code. When not fixed to her chair and keyboard she can be found spending time with family or 80 feet below somewhere in the Caribbean.

Jennifer Liang, BS

Jennifer is a biosystems engineer who is assisting in the canine gait lab. She also provides technical assistance for the musculoskeletal research and imaging services.

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Tom Lazzari, BS

Tom prepares, processes and photographs necropsy specimens for the enhanced orthopedic examinations. He received his animal science degree from University of California at Davis. Tom’s experience ranges from small animal veterinary technician to laboratory technician for the Animal Science Meat Laboratory. He plans to pursue his DVM degree and is currently applying to veterinary schools.

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Christina Milne, BS

As a technical laboratory assistant, Christina prepares, photographs, and processes necropsy specimens for the horse Racing Injury Prevention Program. Her experience with animals reaches far beyond specimens alone. Tina's diverse background ranges from wildlife rehabilitation in the jungle of Guatamala to being a veterinary assistant in North Carolina. She holds a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in Environmental Studies with a focus in Conservation Biology and plans to attend veterinary school in the future.