Aquatic Health and Ecotoxicology

Jenessa Gjeltema, DVM, Dipl. ACZM

Research Focus:  Environmental and non-infectious disease affecting zoological species and ecosystem health (see also: Wildlife/Exotic Animal Medicine, Anesthesia)

Affiliated departments:  Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center and Department of Medicine and Epidemiology

As Assistant Professor of Zoological Medicine and Associate Veterinarian at the Sacramento Zoo, Dr. Jenessa Gjeltema, DVM, Dipl. ACZM, a board-certified specialist in Zoological Medicine, provides both clinical services and engages in research in the field of Zoological Medicine through the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center.  Dr. Gjeltema has particular research interests in non-infectious and environmental diseases affecting zoological species and ecosystem health.

Possible student research projects include:

Investigation of the health effects of microplastic pollution within terrestrial ecosystems

Evaluation of anesthetics for use in the laboratory earthworm (Eisenia fetida)

Evaluation of diagnostic, therapeutic, and anesthetic techniques in California Tiger Salamanders (Ambystoma californiense)

Disease pathology and environmental risks affecting captive and free-ranging endangered Puerto Rican crested toads (Peltophryne lemur)

To contact Dr. Gjeltema -

Swee Teh, Ph.D.

Department of Anatomy, Physiology, and Cell Biology (see also: pathology, pharmacology/toxicology and reproductive biology)

Independent research in the fields of developmental biology, nutrition, pathology, and ecotoxicology. Special emphasis on adverse effects of environmental endocrine disruptors and other contaminants in the embryonic development, growth, and reproduction of invertebrates, fish and shellfish populations. Development of biomarkers of exposure and deleterious effects in aquatic organisms. Development of a screening assay for endocrine disrupting chemicals utilizing microarray technology.

Research will include:

1. The culture of native (salmon, delta smelt, and splittail) and surrogate (Medaka) fish models for use in carcinogens, endocrine disruptors and toxicants testing;
2. Design QA/QC & safety protocols for animal care & exposure experiment. Acute and chronic toxicity testing of contaminants and toxicants using native and non-native fish;
3. The long-term, sublethal growth and reproductive effects of fish exposed to contaminant-laden diets (metals, and organic chemicals including endocrine disruptors and pesticides);
4. Development and use of biochemical, molecular, and histopathologic indicators (biomarkers) of exposure to determine the sublethal deleterious effects of environmental pollutants on fish and aquatic invertebrate populations;
5. Development and the application of toxicogenomics in aquatic toxicology testing;
6. Effects of toxicants on quality and quantity of food chain organisms and resultant consequences on the higher trophic organisms.
7. Integrate growth, biochemical, molecular, histopathologic, and reproductive indicators into an individual and population health effects and extrapolation of population level effects to ecosystem health effects.

Active Projects's

1. Groundwater ambient monitoring and assessment program - Hexavalent chromium and endocrine disrupting chemicals.
2. Using a Sensitive Japanese Medaka (Oryzias Latipes) Fish Model for Endocrine Disruptors Screening.
3. Histopathological examinations of larval and juvenile pelagic fish.
4. Biomass and Toxicity of a Newly Established Bloom of the Cyanobacteria Microcystis Aeruginosa and its Potential Impact on Beneficial Use in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Please visit Dr. Teh's website at:

Michael Ziccardi, DVM, MPVM, PhD

VM: Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center and VM: Medicine & Epidemiology

(See also: Epidemiology, Wildlife/Exotic Animal Medicine/Zoonoses)

Dr. Michael Ziccardi DVM MPVM PhD is Co-Director of the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center (WHC). At the WHC, he serves as the Director of the WHC's Oiled Wildlife Care Network, an extensive oil spill preparedness, response, and research program responsible for animal care throughout California, but also participating in emergencies and contingency planning worldwide. Ziccard's clinical and research areas of expertise are in free-ranging wildlife health, with an emphasis on epidemiology. His current research focus is on the effects of petroleum on marine species and health concerns in California free-ranging wildlife.

Please email Dr. Ziccardi for more information at: