I am a jack-of-all trades veterinary epidemiologist, who works at the intersection of animal, human, and environmental health. I grew up in Minnesota obsessed with animals and the outdoors and originally wanted to be a behavioral ecologist. After volunteering and interning at wildlife rehabilitation centers and getting my first taste of science communication interning at Brukner Nature Center in Ohio, I decided I wanted to find a way to be a free-ranging wildlife veterinarian. While majoring in ecology, evolution, and animal behavior at the University of Minnesota, working in several research labs, and continuing to do wildlife rehabilitation. I also studied abroad in Paris (art) and Nicaragua (primate behavior and ecology). I discovered Conservation Medicine (now more commonly referred to as One Health) and decided to go to veterinary school and get a master of public health, which I did at the University of Minnesota (in ’08 and ’12). During veterinary school I was lucky enough to get funding to spend a total of 9 months on 3 separate occasions in Africa, studying chimpanzees in the Republic of Congo, western lowland gorillas in Gabon, and mountain gorillas in Uganda. I did rotations at zoos and Fossil Rim Wildlife Center during my senior year.
After veterinary school, I moved to Seattle for a year to work as a small animal ER vet, before moving to Chicago to work in the Lincoln Park Zoo’s veterinary epidemiology center, where I focused on avian influenza primarily but also contributed to projects on West Nile virus, urban wildlife health, chimpanzee health in Africa, and the wildlife trade. I then returned to Minnesota to finish up my master of public health. Soon after I founded a nonprofit, Cūra Earth, which focuses on conservation and public health research and capacity building in Central America. Working for my own NGO has given me the flexibility to spend several months in Colombia volunteering as a vet at a zoo and aquarium, blog and do some science writing, conduct research on sea turtle health and tick borne diseases, and become an academic, teaching veterinary nursing and biology in Minnesota and now New York City, where I am based. I have a strong interest in science communication and hope to write a book soon, as well as continue blogging about wildlife disease and One Health.