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Department of Veterinary Sciences|College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Department Graduate Students - Current Students


Jacob Berg
Jacob Berg, M.S. - Veterinary Sciences
Burns, WY
Project: Dr. Gerry Andrews
Project Summary: Jake will be studying and defining the role of the dendritic cell in shaping the protective immune response to Brucella abortus. He will look at how the dendritic cell responds to vaccination or infection and how it helps with T-cell acquired immunity. He will also test for improved vaccine protection by learning how the dendritic cell interacts with T-cells. This will help further define the immune response to B. abortus and ultimately lead to a better understanding of the RB51 vaccine mechanism of action in cattle.
Biosketch: Jake received his undergraduate degree in Microbiology and molecular biology from the University of Wyoming. A Wyoming born native, he plans on attending medical school to become a physician and serve the state of Wyoming.
Melia DeVivo
Melia DeVivo, Ph.D. - Veterinary Sciences
Indiana, Pennsylvania
Project: Epidemiology of chronic wasting disease in a mule deer in the endemic area of Wyoming
Advisor: Dr. Todd Cornish
Project Summary: The effects of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) populations are poorly understood. This study was designed to investigate the epidemiology of CWD in a free-ranging mule deer population in the CWD endemic area of Wyoming. Our first hypothesis is that CWD alters the behavior and activity patterns of free-ranging mule deer, resulting in differences in landscape use between CWD-positive and CWD-negative deer. Our second hypothesis is that CWD is negatively impacting mule deer populations by reducing the average lifespan of CWD-positive deer, and consequently their lifetime reproductive contribution to the population. Additionally, CWD-positive deer may produce fewer fawns compared to CWD-negative deer due to their diminished ability to adequately care for their young. Our study objectives are to determine disease status, pregnancy rates, and genetic susceptibility of free-ranging mule deer annually and monitor these deer using radio-telemetry and global positioning system (GPS) collars throughout their lifespan to determine: a) survival rates; b) home range size and habitat use; c) dispersal rates; d) migration patterns; e) daily activity patterns; and f) fawn productivity/recruitment. We will compare our results between the two sub-populations (CWD-positive and CWD-negative deer) and attempt to determine the role of CWD in population decline by calculating a population growth rate (λ) curve in response to CWD prevalence.
Biosketch: Melia’s first wildlife job was working for the Pennsylvania Game Commission on research regarding elk calving habitat and survival in north-central PA as an undergrad at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP). She graduated from IUP in 2007 with her B.S. in Pre-Medicine and then went on to receive her M.S. in Biology, also from IUP in 2009. While pursuing her M.S. degree, she became increasingly interested in wildlife diseases and was fortunate to have the opportunity to enroll at the University of Wyoming in 2010 to conduct research on chronic wasting disease in a free-ranging mule deer population. Currently, Melia is wrapping up her third field season and will be capturing deer in February 2013 for her fourth and final field year. She plans on graduating in the fall of 2014 and remaining in the Rocky Mountain West. In her “free time”, Melia enjoys downhill skiing, hiking, and crocheting while listening to RadioLab and This American Life.
David Donley
David Donley, Ph.D. - Neuroscience
St. Louis, Missouri
Project: The role of neuroinflammation in Huntington's Disease
Advisor: Dr. Jonathan Fox
Project Summary: Inflammation in the brain is a feature of Huntington’s Disease (HD), a fatal neurodegenerative disorder. The overarching goal of this project is to characterize the role of microglial cells and inflammatory pathways in the onset and progression of HD. The target mechanisms are common to many neurological disorders and will hopefully provide viable options for therapeutic intervention.
Amanda Dougherty
Amanda Dougherty, Ph.D. - Veterinary Sciences with a Minor in Environment and Natural Resources
Dakota, IL
Project: Immune responses and cytokine mRNA expression in brucellosis infected elk with comparison to a murine model and evaluation of recombinant S19 deletion mutants
Advisor: Dr. Gerry Andrews
Project Summary: This project looks at the immune response of elk by measuring levels of cytokine mRNA in peripheral blood mononuclear cells. In addition, the murine model will be used to identify cytokine expression patterns in response to infection and use for comparison to naturally occurring infections in target species. B. abortus S19 knockout mutants will be generated to characterize genes, assess gene function and role of virulence during infection.
Biosketch: B.A. in biology and biochemistry from Knox College, M.S. from UW and currently working on a PhD with a minor in Environment and Natural Resources. In my free time, I raise dairy goats, pack goats, chickens, the occasional turkey, a very naughty (but adorable) dog and a cat.
Molly Elderbrook
Molly Elderbrook, M.S. - Veterinary Sciences
Burlington, Wisconsin
Project: Servoprevalence of Brucella ovis in domestic sheep herds in Wyoming
Advisor: Dr. Kerry Sondgeroth
Project Summary: Brucalla ovis, the etiological agent for ovine epididymitis, is poorly documented in the United States, and a basic study concerning prevalence would be useful to better understand disease distribution. The primary purpose of this research is to gain valuable information regarding the prevalence of B. ovis in Wyoming sheep herds, and to further determine which risk factors influence the development and spread of the bacterial infection in individuals and flocks of sheep. This will be accomplished by obtaining serum samples from multiple sheep herds throughout Wyoming, and then running a series of diagnositc tests to confirm which indivduals and flocks are positive for the presence of antibodies to the bacteria. The disease causes reduced fertility in rams, abortion in ewes, and lamb neonatal deaths. It is not transmissible to humans as far as we know, but the economic effect on domestic sheep herds can be profound causing reduced conception rates, shortened lambing periods, higher incidence of pre-mature lambs, and a significant reduction of lambing disease in domestic sheep herds, but it can also be used in management and prevention of the disease. Future studies would include determining prevalence across other regions in the United States, and assessing the prevalence in Big Horn sheep herds.
Biosketch: I grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, and obtained by B.S. in Biology with pre-veterinary emphasis from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. For about two years, I worked on various wildlife projects ranging from the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and grassland bird habitiat management to the Missouri Department of Conservation and the reintroduction of elk into the Missouri Ozarks. In my free time, I enjoy hiking, fishing, and camping when the weather is optimal, and plenty of outdoor volleyball and softball in the spring and summer
Brady Godwin
Brady Godwin, Ph.D. - Ecology
Wilmington, Delaware
Project: Hummingbird Genomics, Disease Ecology and Conservation
Advisor: Dr. Holly Ernest
Project Summary: I am interested in using genetics and genomics to answer ecological questions. For my PhD, I will study the population genomics and disease ecology of hummingbird species, and hope to investigate their potential as sentinel species for chemical and pesticide use. A significant part of my PhD work will be to help begin a hummingbird health monitoring program throughout the Rocky Mountain West based at the University of Wyoming.
Biosketch: I grew up in Delaware and attended a visual arts high school, with dreams of being an artist. I realized I may not be cut out for that, and followed my other (equal) passion of ecology. I attended Marlboro College in Vermont for my undergraduate degree studying biology. My senior thesis was on ecology and conservation in Madagascar, which stemmed from an internship there studying lemus in the rain forests. I completed by Master's of Science at the University of Wyoming studying river otter ecology using non-invasive genetics. I strive to clearly communicate science, visually and orally, every chance I can. In my free time like to draw, hike with my dogs, and cook.
Noah Hull Noah Hull - Ph. D. - Veterinary Sciences
Tarzana, California
Project:  Creatuib and validation of a molecular assay for brucellosis and implementation of the assay to characterize disease in East Africa
Advisor: Brant Schumaker
Project Summary:  Brucellosis is an endemic bacterial-disease in Wyoming as well as globally.  It is considered one of the world's most widespread zoonoses and ranks as one of the seven most neglected diseases per the World Health Organization.  There are over 500,000 new human cases of brucellosis annually.  We intend to develop a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay in order to indentify animals infected with Brucellas spps.  Upon validation, this moleculary assay will be utilized in East Africa (specificaly Tanzania) to characterize the disease there.  In addition, we will conduct an epidemiologic study to identify and quantify risk factors for infection in Tanzania.
Melanie LaCava
Melanie LaCava, Ph.D. - Ecology
San Diego, California
Project:Pronghorn genomics and disease ecology.
Advisor: Dr. Holly Ernest
Project Summary: Her project is to determine if the current cattle vaccine for Brucella
Project Summary: While a vast quantity of research has been performed on pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) in Wyoming, genetic and genomic research is somewhat limited. For my PhD, I will be applying molecular techniques to study pronghorn populations throughout the state of Wyoming.
Biosketch: I grew up in San Diego, California, where I did rowing, snorkeling, hiking and anything else that got me outside. I earned by B.S. in Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology from the University of California, Davis where I completed an undergraduate honors thesis using genetic techniques to study the spawning strategies of the endangered Delta smelt, Hyopmesus transpacificus. After graduating, I spent six months on a research team in Morocco studying personality in Barbary macaques, Macaca sylvanus, and then a year working as a research associate for the Pacific Pocket Mouse Conservation Breeding and Reintroduction Program at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. I love exploring new places and ideas, and enjoy learning and teaching others about wildlife conservation.
Adam Suluburic
Adam Suluburic - Ph.D.
Laramie, Wyoming
Project: .
Advisor: Dr. Myrna Miller
Project Summary: .
Biosketch:
Pradeep Neupane
Pradeep Neupane - M.S.
Chitwan, Nepal
Project: .
Advisor: Dr. Gerry Andrews
Project Summary: .
Biosketch:

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