WHC Fellowship

Phil & Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center Fellowship

The Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center funds UC Davis student research related to ecosystem health and diseases of free-ranging wildlife through this competitive grant program. Our goals are to evaluate the health of free-ranging wildlife populations. Each year, the grant committee awards three to five proposals funding up to $5,000. The student grant program is made possible by the generous contributions of concerned individuals. Support the fellowship here

Email questions to wildlifehealth@ucdavis.edu

  • Eligible grantees: Graduate students working with a UC Davis-School of Veterinary Medicine faculty sponsor or Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center-affiliated UC Davis faculty

  • Criteria for evaluation: Proposal will be evaluated based on scientific merit, quality of the proposal, ability of the investigator to complete the project, and the project’s contribution to the student’s advanced degree

  • Review process: Grants are reviewed by a panel of the previous year’s grant recipients

  • Requirements for recipient: Final report; participation in next year’s grant review panel

Past Funded Projects


  • Melissa Bolotaolo: Effects of anthropogenic chemicals on microcystin bioaccumulation and toxicity in salmonid species
  • Andrea DeRogatis: Characterization of the constitutive innate immunity of three California hummingbird species
  • Kristen MacDonald: A global assessment of clinical morbidity and mortality caused by fishing gear ingestion in marine wildlife
  • Louden Wright: Pharmacokinetics of single-dose subcutaneous voriconazole in healthy Western pond turtles (Actinemys marmorata)


  • Rita Bong: Effects of microcystin on hematological, biochemical & immunological parameters and pathology in orally gavaged mallard ducks. Advisor: Woutrina Smith

  • Esther Kukielka: Investigating raccoon abundance, home range and Baylisascaris procyonis prevalence in Yosemite National Park and its association with human occupancy in Yosemite Valley. Advisor: Beatriz Martinez-Lopez

  • Matt Marinkovich: Evaluation of blood lactate clearance in live-stranded pinnipeds. Advisors: Jenessa Gjeltema, Ray Wack
  • Jaime Rudd: Genetic epidemiolofy of Sarcoptes scabiei in the endangered San Joaquin Kit Fox in Bakersfield, California. Advisor: Janet Foley, Deana Clifford


  • Maris Brenn-White: Canine distemper in domestic hunting dogs and potential for spillover to jaguars in Nicaragua’s Bosawás Biosphere Reserve. Advisors: Christine Fiorello, Janet Foley

  • Erin D'Agnese: The re-emergence of threatened Guadalupe fur seals (Arctocephalus townsendi) in the Pacific Northwest. Advisor: Woutrina Miller

  • Piyaporn Eiamchoroen: The effect of Pseudogymnoascus destructans extracellular serine protease, PdSP1 on fungal adherence and invasion in a bat keratinocyte model. Advisor: Kevin Keel

  • Brittany Seibert: Chlamydial infections in birds of prey presented to rehabilitation facilities. Advisor: Michelle Hawkins


  • Molly Church: Exposure to different genotypes of raccoon polyomavirus (RacPyV) in free-ranging North American raccoons (Procyon lotor)
  • Patricia Gaffney: Genetic mechanisms underlying amyloid A amyloidosis in Island foxes (Urocyon littoralis)
  • Elle Glueckert: Emergent virulent Aleutian disease virus in striped skunks and spillover risk to mustelids of conservation concern in California
  • Omar Gonzalez-Viera: Morbillivirus receptor density and distribution in marine mammal species; implications for lesion distribution and host specificity


  • Katie Delk: Measurement of Acute Phase Proteins in Flamingos with Chronic Pododermatitis
  • Evan Eskew: Investigating Molecular Mechanisms of Resistance to Fungal Disease in Amphibians
  • Charlene Lujan Vega: Serosurvey of Chlamydia psittaci in free-ranging populations of Red-tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) in Northern California
  • Tara Roth: The role of the rabbit tick (Haemaphysalis leporispalustris) in the transmission and maintenance of the deadly intracellular pathogen Francisella tularensis


  • Tierra Smiley Evans: Epidemiology of Herpesviruses Circulating in Free-ranging Mountain Gorillas and Sympatric Primate Species
  • Laurie Harris: Investigating zoonotic disease transmission in endangered primates in Rwanda
  • Tristan Burgess: Land-sea spillover of Brucella in Bering Island sea otters
  • Elise LaDouceur: Cytological, Histological, and Ultrastructural Findings in Marine Invertebrates with Copper Toxicosis with Comparisons to Normal Histology


  • Daphne Gille: Wild pigs as reservoirs for leptospirosis for California wildlife: a pilot study
  • Caitlin Ott-Conn: Individual and population-level impacts of a newly discovered mite-associated skin disease in the critically endangered Amargosa vole (Microtus californicus scirpensis)
  • Annette Roug: Evaluation of a novel diagnostic technique for detecting Mycobacterium bovis infection in African buffalo (Syncerus caffer)
  • Mary Straub: Risk factors for disease and parasitism in western chipmunks


  • Regina Dingler: Surveillance of avifauna for Anaplasma phagocytophilm and Borrelia burgdorferi in California
  • Loreto Godoy: Investigation of a debilitating disease syndrome of unknown cause in wild hummingbirds
  • Lisa Shender: Diagnostic evaluation of Leishmania spp. In small mammals from the Peruvian Amazon
  • Connie Silbernagel: Prevalence of disease in isolated populations of Western pond turtles (Actinemys marmorata) and populations sympatric with red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans)
  • Nicole Stephenson: Validation of fecal PCR assay for Notoedres cati and assessment of notoedric mange epizootic in bobcats (Lynx rufus) in California
  • Matthew Stuckey: Ecology of zoonotic vector-borne pathogens in bats


  • Health in California pikas, a highly vulnerable indicator species of global warming
  • Evaluation of potential zoonotic Giardia lambliainfection in mountain gorillas (Gorilla gorilla beringei) in Virunga National Park, Rwanda
  • Preliminary Evaluation of methylmercury levels in the red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkia) in the wetlands of the southern Yolo Bypass
  • Bacterial transmission and social networks in giraffe
  • Epidemiology of Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae and its relationship to respiratory disease in desert bighorn sheep (Ovis Canadensis nelsoni) in California


  • Exploring patterns of disease exposure in bobcats with an urbanizing chaparral ecosystem
  • Coccidian parasites of marine mammals in the California near-shore ecosystem
  • Assessing human-pathogen exposure by multiplex microbead immunoassay in free-ranging ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) at Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve, Madagascar
  • Effect of wetland degradation on transport ofToxoplasma gondii from Land to Sea
  • Estimating introgression of domestic cats into European and African wildcat populations


  • Investigation of Bartonella spp. as a cause of infective valvular endocarditis in Alaskan sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni)
  • Toxoplasmosis in California Sea Otters: Understanding the role of the oocyst through improved concentration and detection methods in environmental samples
  • Comparisons of pathogen exposure in fishers (Martes pennanti) between an isolated population and its core population: Implications for Conservation Management
  • Assessing the risk of disease transmission in threatened frogs by comparing Escherichia coli fingerprints among frog populations
  • Linking hunting activities to lead exposure in sentinelavian scavenging species


  • In vitro validation of a polymerase chain reaction technique for diagnosis of tuberculosis in elephants
  • Evaluation of free-ranging gray (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) and red (Vulpes vulpes) foxes as sentinel species for detecting Toxoplasma gondiiterrestrial pathogen pollution
  • The impact of proximity to domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) on the seroprevalence of antibodies against specific common canid pathogens in the black-backed jackals (Canis mesomelas) and in spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) residing in the Laikipia district of Kenya

2002-2006, selected projects

  • Tetranucleotide DNA marker panel for mountain lions(Puma concolor): development and applications for forensics and ecology
  • Comparison of Campylobacter isolates and their antibiotic resistance patterns from wild and stranded northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris)
  • Improved detection of Toxoplasma gondii in contaminated water samples
  • Patterns of feline coronavirus shedding in cheetahs(Acinonyx jubatus) detected by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (Gaffney)
  • Risk factors for Toxoplasma gondii infection in the cat population of the Morro Bay watershed
  • Measuring the impact of translocation stress on gonadal function in cheetahs
  • Evaluation of the western immunoblot for use in determining Brucella abortus infections in elk
  • Longitudinal health survey of captive-released island fox juveniles on Santa Catalina Island, California
  • Risk factors for idiopathic cardiomyopathy in southern sea otters
  • Exposure of spotted hyenas in Kenya to feline and canine viruses