Wildlife Exotic

Amir Ardeshir DVM, MPVM, PhD

(See also: Gastroenterology/Gut Microbiome, Immunology, Systems Biology, Microbiology/Parasitology)

Dr. Amir Ardeshir is an Associate Scientist at the California National Primate Research Center. His research focus is on the establishment of the gut communities (microbiota) in infancy and their role in programming the immune system in non-human primate models. He is interested in the following questions: What underlying mechanisms affect the establishment of the gut microbiota in infancy? And, how does the early age microbiota modulate the immune systems development?

Please contact Dr. Ardeshir at aardeshir@ucdavis.edu for more information.

Barbara Byrne, DVM

VM:PMI (See also: Immunology, Microbiology)

The Byrne laboratory focuses primarily on microbiological questions as they apply to clinical veterinary microbiology. Some research areas include:

  1. Evaluation of the marine health by detection of pathogens in marine mammals, their food sources, and the marine environment and appraisal of their connection with terrestrial sources.
  2. Environmental contamination by zoonotic fecal pathogens.
  3. Genotyping of clinical isolates to determine their relatedness
  4. Use of mass spectrometry for isolate and strain identification

Some possible project areas:

1)     Evaluation of marine mammal isolates for virulence factors
2)     Comparison of clinical isolates for genetic relatedness by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis
3)     Use of mass spectroscopy (MALDI-TOF) to identify and classify bacterial and/or fungal strains

Please visit Dr. Byrne's website at: http://faculty.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/faculty/bbyrne/

Kirsten Gilardi, DVM, Dipl. ACZM

Wildlife Health Center

Dr. Kirsten Gilardi, DVM, Dipl. ACZM is Associate Director of the Wildlife Health Center (WHC). At the WHC, she serves as the Executive Director of the WHC's SeaDoc Society, a marine wildlife and ecosystem health program with on-the-ground operations in Washington state (under the leadership of Dr. Joe Gaydos) and in California, where SeaDoc runs the California Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Project. As well, Gilardi co-directs (with WHC veterinarian Dr. Mike Cranfield) the Gorilla Doctors program, a partnership with the non-profit Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project that provides in situ veterinary care to wild human-habituated mountain and Grauer's gorillas in east-central Africa. Gilardi's clinical and research areas of expertise are in free-ranging wildlife health, with a current emphasis on One Health approaches to great ape medicine and conservation, and on marine and aquatic species (population health assessments, impacts of lost fishing gear on marine wildlife).

Please contact Dr. Gilardi at kvgilardi@ucdavis.edu.

Jenessa Gjeltema, DVM, Dipl. ACZM

Research Focus:  Effects of anthropogenic litter (plastic) pollution on animal, human, and ecosystem health.  Application, evaluation, and validation of clinical diagnostics and therapeutics in zoological species.

Affiliated departments:  UC Davis One Health Institute, Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center, and Department of Medicine and Epidemiology

As Assistant Professor of Zoological Medicine and Head Veterinarian at the Sacramento Zoo, Dr. Jenessa Gjeltema, DVM, Dipl. ACZM, a board-certified specialist in Zoological MedicineTM, provides both clinical veterinary service and engages in research in the field of Zoological/Wildlife Medicine.

Possible student research projects include:

  • Development, evaluation, and validation of research techniques for the study of environmental microplastic contamination
  • Investigation of the health effects of plastic pollution in animals and ecosystems
  • Application, evaluation, and validation of clinical diagnostics or therapeutics in zoological species
  • Other clinical research in the field of Zoological Medicine

To contact Dr. Gjeltema - jgjeltema@ucdavis.edu


Michelle Hawkins, VMD Dipl. ABVP (Avian Practice)

Anesthesia, analgesia, wildlife

Department of Medicine and Epidemiology School of Veterinary Medicine (see also: anesthesia/pain management)

Dr. Hawkins current research area is in advancing clinical and research techniques aimed at improving the health of wild birds of prey during rehabilitation. Her areas of particular interest include pain management and other therapeutics as well as specific infectious and toxicologic diseases affecting these species. Dr. Hawkins has a number of active research projects, and would be interested in talking to students who have an interest in clinical or basic science research in these areas.

Please visit Dr. Hawkins' website for more information: http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/faculty/results.cfm?fid=14789

Christine Kreuder Johnson, VMD, PhD

One Health Institute

(See also: Global Health, Epidemiology)

Dr. Kreuder Johnson is a Professor of Epidemiology and Ecosystem Health in the School of Veterinary Medicine and Director of the EpiCenter for Disease Dynamics at the One Health Institute at UC Davis. Her research focuses on wildlife population health and the impact of ecological processes on species at risk and patterns of disease transmission in marine and terrestrial wild animal populations. Recent activities investigate zoonotic disease spillover dynamics, viral host shifts, further characterization of the animal-human interface, and epidemiologic patterns facilitating zoonotic disease transmission and spread. She provides epidemiologic support to federal and state agencies during unusual outbreak events and directs global surveillance activities for the Emerging Pandemic Threats PREDICT program.

 Contact info: ckjohnson@ucdavis.edu

Aslı Mete, DVM, PhD, Diplomate ACVP  

(See also: Pathology/Virology, Food Animal Medicine & Food Safety)

Dr. Mete is a board certified pathologist with a research focus on avian species. As a diagnostic pathologist, Dr. Mete works on disease surveillance, herd health management and public health in livestock, avian species, and wildlife. The cases from her clinical work frequently lead to further questions and research projects within the University and elsewhere, including her work on diseases of wild and domestic avian species and backyard chickens. In investigations of diseases in wild birds, Dr. Mete evaluates emerging conditions in relation to ecological and environmental systems integration and affects.

Dr. Mete can be reached at amete@ucdavis.edu

Joanne Paul-Murphy, DVM, Dipl. ACZM, Dipl. ACAW

*On sabbatical in 2021 - not taking STAR students for 2021 cycle*

Comparative Zoological Animal Research Laboratory

Vet Med: Medicine & Epidemiology

(See also: Anesthesia/Pain Management)

Dr. Paul-Murphy’s current research area is welfare and wellness assessments  for companion birds.  This includes projects to assess behavioral  components as well as health parameters of captive parrots. She continues to maintain a small laboratory working with colleagues in the area of  avian analgesia, clinical and research techniques aimed at improving the health of companion birds.

She is director of the Richard M. Schubot Parrot Wellness & Welfare Program.

Please visit Dr. Paul-Murphy's website at: https://czar.vetmed.ucdavis.edu

Sam Ridgway, D.V.M., Ph.D., D.A.C.Z.M.*

Affiliated with UC Veterinary Medical Center – San Diego

President of the National Marine Mammal Foundation
Dr. Ridgway is one of the founders of the Navy Marine Mammal program starting in 1961 and has 48 years of experience in marine mammal medicine and research.
Link to Dr. Ridgway’s current publications
Link to Dr. Ridgway’s website

Please contact Peter Ernst pernst@ucsd.edu or Christina Sigurdson csigurdson@ucsd.edu first for more information

Benjamin Sacks, Ph.D.

Veterinary Genetics Laboratory, Canid Genetics & Population Health

(See also: Genetics/Genomics)

The Canid Diversity and Conservation Laboratory specializes on ecology and conservation of wild canids and other carnivores, including the application of genetic techniques, disease surveillance, and field methods (see web site below). STAR students will initially learn necessary skills from students, technicians, and faculty, and will spend most of the summer collecting data for their project under faculty supervision.

Please visit Dr. Sacks's website at: http://www.vgl.ucdavis.edu/cdcg/bensacks.php

For the laboratory and projects, visit http://www.vgl.ucdavis.edu/cdcg/home.php

Karen Shapiro, DVM, MPVM, PhD

VM: Pathology, Microbiology & Immunology (See also: Microbiology/Parasitology, Epidemiology)

Dr. Shapiro is an infectious disease researcher focusing on transmission of zoonotic pathogens that pose a health risk to wildlife populations and people through water or food. Her research program targets the transport and fate of zoonotic pathogens in watersheds and coastal ecosystems; effects of landscape change and climate variability on disease transmission; impacts of water scarcity and impaired quality on human and animal population health, and food safety. Specific projects where STAR students could become involved with include development and validation of molecular methods for detection of zoonotic protozoan parasites in food and water.

CONTACT:  kshapiro@ucdavis.edu

Esteban Soto-Martinez, MSc, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVM

VM: Medicine and Epidemiology (See also: Immunology, Microbiology, Pathology)

Dr. Esteban Soto is a board certified veterinary microbiologist who has an interest in aquatic animal health. Our laboratory main research interests are to understand the pathogenesis of important infectious diseases of wild and aquatic animals, and to develop strategies to protect animals from these diseases. Members in our laboratory study One Health, Aquatic Animal Disease, and Fish Disease through a combination of microbiological, molecular, and epidemiological methods. Current projects involve studying the ecology, diversity and host-pathogen interaction of Francisella noatunensis, Piscirickettsia salmonis, Veronaea botryosa, Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae, Flavobacterium spp., Saprolegnia ferax, Koi herpes virus and other fish pathogens; and studying the ecology, diversity and host-pathogen interaction of hypermucoid Klebsiella pneumoniae in marine mammals.

Please email Dr. Soto-Martinez for more information - sotomartinez@ucdavis.edu

Lisa A. Tell, DVM

Department of Medicine and Epidemiology (See also: Food Animal Medicine/Food Safety, Pharmacology/Toxicology)

Dr. Tell is the Director of the Veterinary Drug Residue Laboratory and serves as the Regional Director for the Minor Use Animal Drug and the Food Animal Avoidance Database Programs. She has been a full-time faculty member of the School of Veterinary Medicine since 1994. Dr. Tell's research interests are veterinary drug pharmacokinetic studies for zoological and food animal species. She has a particular interest in treatment options for fungal diseases in birds.

Research studies in Dr. Tell's laboratory vary from pivotal data studies seeking label claims for minor food animal species (particularly goats) to clinically related pharmacokinetic studies for companion birds. Many of the food animal related studies focus on drug residues and residue avoidance in the interest of protecting public health. Research experience gained from working in Dr. Tell's laboratory varies from the in life phase of the pharmacokinetic study to the good laboratory practice bench-top research activities.

Dr. Tell is also the lead investigator for the UC Davis Hummingbird Health program that investigates diseases in free ranging hummingbirds in California.  This program bands the birds, takes biometric measurements, and evaluates birds for infectious diseases.

PLEASE CONTACT DR. TELL : latell@ucdavis.edu

Renée Tsolis

Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine

(see also: immunology, microbiology)

Dr. Tsolis is a microbiologist studying host-pathogen interactions leading to disease during infection. Her laboratory uses a variety of animal models to study how two groups of zoonotic pathogens, non-typhoidal Salmonella and zoonotic Brucella species, interact with the immune system to cause disease. For non-typhoidal Salmonella species, Dr. Tsolis' group is interested in learning why underlying co-morbidities such as malaria and malnutrition increase the incidence of death from systemic infection in the developing world, and her laboratory has developed mouse models to gain insight into immunomodulatory effects of Vitamin A deficiency and malaria. For Brucella, the laboratory has developed models to understand both chronic infection that this group of organisms causes within the mononuclear phagocyte system and to interrogate placental infections in pregnant animals that lead to abortion in domestic animals. Collaborations with UCD research Dr. Luckhart in the Medical Microbiology department, Dr. McSorley in the Center for Comparative Medicine and Dr. Stephensen in the USDA Western Human Nutrition Research Center have been instrumental in establishing this interdisciplinary research program. The long-term goal of Dr. Tsolis' work is to uncover basic principles of how bacterial pathogens manipulate the immune response to cause disease and ensure their transmission to the next host.

Dr. Tsolis' research is described here: https://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/medmicro/Faculty_MR/Tsolis/tsolis_index_mr.html

Stephanie Venn-Watson, DVM, MPH*

Affiliated with UC Veterinary Medical Center – San Diego

Director of the Translational Medicine & Research Program

National Marine Mammal Foundation
Dr. Venn-Watson has served as a veterinary epidemiologist for the Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization, and since 2001, has studied marine mammal health and disease with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Defense, and the National Marine Mammal Foundation. Dr. Venn-Watson's current One Health & translational research focuses on finding common ways to detect, prevent, treat, and cure diabetes, aging-associated diseases, and infectious diseases in human and marine mammal patient populations.

Please contact Peter Ernst pernst@ucsd.edu or Christina Sigurdson csigurdson@ucsd.edu first for more information

Michael Ziccardi, DVM, PhD

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

(See also: Epidemiology, Aquatic Health/Ecotoxicology)

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: mhziccardi@ucdavis.edu