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Dr. Kirsten Gilardi Honored with the 2015 Emil Dolensek Award


October 27, 2015

Dr. Kirsten Gilardi

Dr. Kirsten Gilardi

Congratulations to Dr. Kirsten Gilardi who received the 2015 Emil Dolensek Award, presented at the recent American Association of Zoo Veterinarians (AAZV) conference. The award honors “exceptional contributions to the conservation, care, and understanding of zoo and free-ranging wildlife reflecting Dolensek's commitment to these purposes.” She has been a member of the AAZV for close to twenty-five years and now serves as Co-Director of the school’s Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center.

After earning her DVM from UC Davis in 1993, Dr. Gilardi served as one of two veterinary residents (1996) at the California National Primate Research Center, just one of five US federally-funded primate research centers at the time. This training and experience with primates sealed her life-long commitment to providing the best achievable care for captive and free-ranging wildlife and would serve her well later in the management of the health of endangered primates in their home range of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Her many nominators noted that “throughout her career, Dr. Gilardi’s professional contributions to the conservation, care, and understanding of captive and free-ranging wildlife have spanned continents, species, and ecosystems. She has dedicated her professional life to advancing the health of wildlife in balance with people and the environment through her kind caregiving, tireless advocacy, generous mentorship, and, above all, her quiet creation and leadership of highly impactful wildlife and ecosystem health programs around the world that endeavor to save species and their habitat.”

Dr. Gilardi’s work at UC Davis’ Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center (WHC) began in 1998 when she was instrumental in laying the foundation and forming the facilities along the California coast that are utilized to this day for wildlife care during oil spills.

“Kirsten is the lynchpin without whom our programs and our center would not be successful. She is always quietly working away to ensure excellence in our endeavors while humbly ascribing the team’s achievements to others,” said Dr. Jonna Mazet, Executive Director of the One Health Institute. “We believe that she truly embodies Dr. Dolensek’s amazing qualities that this award seeks to recognize and celebrate.”

Additionally at the AAZV conference, more than 38 faculty, students, residents and alumni connected with UC Davis gave presentations, posters or served as session moderators. Two recent graduates also won awards. Dr. Alex Goe was awarded first prize for her resident research project and Dr. Spencer Kehoe won the darting competition with a perfect score.