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Disease Ecology

Departments: Veterinary Science

Dr. Holly ErnestDisease Ecology, Holly Ernest, DVM PhD

Holly Ernest DVM PhD is Professor of Wildlife Genomics and Disease Ecology and Wyoming Excellence Chair in Disease Ecology.


Her expertise lies in the ecology, population health, and genomics of wildlife populations and veterinary medicine. Dr. Ernest’s research focuses on population level impacts, ecology, and genetics of diseases of wildlife. Her work will take into account climate, habitat alteration, land use and other environmental factors as they relate to animal disease ecology and management. Species of interest of the Rocky Mountain West and throughout the Americas include bighorn sheep, pronghorn (“antelope”), deer, mountain lions, black bears, sea otters, and other mammals, and birds including owls and hummingbirds. Disease pathogens of interest afflict wildlife, livestock and humans and cover the spectrum from worms, bacteria, viruses, and prions.

Ernest received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Cornell University in 1980; a Master’s degree in veterinary physiology and pharmacology (1982) and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree (1986), both from Ohio State University; and a Ph.D. (2001) in ecology from the University of California-Davis. She was a professor of wildlife genetics and population health at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine from 2002-2014, when she joined the UW faculty.

“I am working at the University of Wyoming on the health challenges facing wildlife, livestock, and people in our rapidly changing environments. The work of my disease ecology and genomics research team will help provide practical answers for better prevention, control, and management of diseases that threaten wildlife populations, livestock well-being, and human health. My previous wildlife health and ecology work at the University of California, Davis and background as a veterinarian prepared me well for these challenges and included research, veterinary medicine and public outreach.”


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