Phil and Karen Drayer Wildlife Health Center Fellowship Award

Phil & Karen Drayer Wildlife Health Center Fellowship Award

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

Proposals are now being accepted for 2022. The deadline for submission is Monday, January 10, 2022 at 4:30pm Pacific Standard Time.

Download the 2022 application and guidelines. (.docx)

Email questions to

  • ELIGIBILITY: Students currently enrolled in a graduate training program within UC Davis. A student may be enrolled in a program outside of the School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM), but the Faculty Sponsor for the proposal must be affiliated with the WHC and must be a collaborator on the project. Students are only eligible for receipt of funds through this program once during the course of his/her degree. A graduate student who has received previous funding through this program is eligible to apply again only if he/she is now engaged in a new graduate degree program and his/her area of inquiry is unrelated to the previously funded research.

  • FACULTY SPONSOR: All university faculty or eligible university titles that are affiliated with the WHC. Faculty may affiliate with the Wildlife Health Center by contacting the Chief Operations Officer and expressing interest (Matt Blake,

  • Criteria for evaluation: Each 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


  • Charles Alex: Understanding genetic diversity in Skunk Amdoparvovirus: Regional variation and development of an in vitro model
  • Charlene Lujan-Vega: Tissue distribution of microplastics in the wild peruvian anchovy (Engraulis ringens), a key species of the Humboldt current ecosystem
  • Paula Rodriguez: Pharmacokinetics and safety of oral grapiprant administration to red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis)
  • Sophie Zhu: Dynamics of Toxoplasma gondii transmission by free-ranging cats and implications for marine wildlife conservation


  • Samah Abdelrazek: Flavobacterium columnare and climate change: Synergistic thermal and pathogenic impact on Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) predation risks
  • Arturo Oliver Guimera: Correlation of canine distemper virus morphology, pathogenesis and tissue tropism
  • Karla Rascon-Garcia: Infections disease modeling and spatial epidemiologic methods: The wildlife-livestock interface
  • Narjara Veras Grossman: Avian influenza in California: A time series analysis on the climate and landscape factors that can affect disease presence


  • 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