Our lab is interested in all aspects of wildlife disease! Recent research explores how pathogens affect wildlife populations, communities and ecosystems, from an applied perspective. We attempt to understand how anthropogenic changes to the landscape affect wildlife disease dynamics. Such research encompasses the intersection of human, animal and wildlife health and integrates ecological principles to inform the fields of conservation medicine and One Health.


Are you a student interested in conservation medicine, One Health, or wildlife disease? We will be hosting a Virtual Student Workshop on Conservation Medicine-One Health-Wildlife Diseases again in 2020! Get more info here!

I am currently recruiting students for Fall 2021. Please read the Prospective Student Section to gain more insight on how to become a student of the Hernandez Lab. If you want to work with me, email me and we will schedule a time to talk via Skype or in person. Please be persistent. Certain times of the year are very busy and I have to prioritize my current students (under and grad) over prospective students. Persistence pays off! I am looking for people who want to work with urban wildlife, who are interested in continuing white ibis work, Salmonella work, antimicrobial resistance etc, among other things, but my main theme “anthropogenic activities that influence wildlife health and pathogen dynamics” still stands.

White Ibis
White Ibis Flock


Summer and Fall 2020

  • Dr. Hernandez and Raquel have been hard at work studying COVID-19 susceptibility in wildlife.

  • We're planning for our second One Health Workshop, to be held virtually this November!

Spring 2020

  • The pandemic did not slow down our work this spring! Julia and Kat headed down to Palm Beach County, FL to conduct research on an urban ibis breeding colony. 

  • Julia was recently awarded a grant from the American Association of Avian Veterinarians to continue this work!


August 6-9th, 2017: M.S. student Becca Cozad attended the annual Turtle Survival Alliance conference (August 6-9, 2017) in Charleston, SC. She received a student travel grant to present a talk entitled "Detection of Ranavirus (Frog Virus 3) in Translocated Gopher Tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) in Florida, USA" and a poster titled "Density and Health Status Effects on Home Range Estimates of Translocated Gopher Tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) in Florida, USA".

June 2019

  • Conservation Medicine and Biology Course 2019 - Once again,

as I do every other summer, I held a month-long study abroad

course in Conservation Medicine and Biology in Costa Rica.

Nineteen students from diverse backgrounds (undergraduates

in biology, ecology, wildlife, and other majors and veterinary

students) and instructors (Dr. Jose Aguirre and Dr. Jenny

Bloodgood) explored conservation challenges and their influence

on the health of wildlife and people. If you're interested in this

course, I will offer it again in 2021. Please visit the Office of Global

Engagement at UGA for details on study abroad courses and email.

I will begin recruiting for the 2021 course in the Fall of 2020.


November 2018

  • We are happy to announce that we sponsored the first UGA Conservation

Medicine One Health Wildlife Diseases Student Workshop on Nov 2-4th, 2018.

We received approximately 170 attendees, half of which were from outside UGA,

from a diverse student population of under- grad- and veterinary students. Most

of our non-UGA students were from nearby SE schools, but we also had some

from Nebraska, Michigan, California, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico! The workshop

involved seminars and wet labs. Most importantly, we held a 3-hr Career Round

Table on Friday night, during which time students were able to ask a group of 6

panelists about different paths for developing a career working on wildlife and

One health and conservation. If you missed it, and for a full description, please

visit the workshop website (below). 



However, we did record the seminars and will be posting a link to view those

talks at a later date. Stay tuned!

The workshop was implemented with the help of members of the Student Chapter

of the Wildlife Disease Association, the Warnell Pre-Vet Club and the College of

Vet Med’s Zoological Medicine Club, with in-kind support from the Warnell School

of Forestry and Natural Resources, SCWDS and the College of Vet Med.

  • Catie Welch was awarded 1st Place Poster at the 2018 Florida Ornithological Society in Davie, FL.

August 2018

  • Jenny Bloodgood was awarded a Graduate Student Scholarship Award at the 2018 International Conference of the Wildlife Disease Association in St. Augustine, FL. This award acknowledges outstanding academic and research accomplishment, productivity, and future potential in pursuit of new knowledge in wildlife health or disease. In addition, this award recognizes a commitment to leadership, scholarship, and service in the wildlife health profession.

  • Charlie Bahnson, although not in our lab, won the Best Student Presentation Terry Amundson Award at the 2018 International Conference of the Wildlife Disease Association in St. Augustine, FL for his presentation on "The American White Ibis as a Natural Reservoir of Influenza A Virus"

  • Andrea Ayala, Sebastian Ortiz, Catie Welch, and Sonia Hernandez presented posters and Jenny Bloodgood, Maureen Murray, Shannon Curry, and Becca Cozad gave talks at the 2018 International Conference of the Wildlife Disease Association

July 2018

  • Caroline Cummings successfully defended her Master's thesis titled "The Effects of Urbanization and Anthropogenic Resource Provisioning on Stress and Immunity in American White Ibis (Eudocimus albus)"

April 2018

  • Dr. Hernandez won the Xi Sigma Pi Professor of the Year award which is chosen

        by students members of the Xi chapter of Sigma Pi the fraternity for Forestry and

        Natural Resources.

  • Becca Cozad successfully defended her Master's thesis titled "Investigation

        of Health in Translocated Gopher Tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) at a

        Protected Site in Northwest Florida"

  • Anje Kidd successfully defended her Master's thesis titled "Movement Ecology of

        the American White Ibis (Eudocimus albus) across an Urbanization Gradient"

  • Jennifer Bloodgood won the 2018 WDA Student Scholarship award.

  • Andrea Ayala received the AAUW Dissertation Completion Fellowship.

  • Charlie Bahnson, although not in our lab, won an award for his presentation on

        the work with avian influenza experimental at the Student Chapter of WDA


  • Henry Adams received a LACSI travel award to begin his work in Costa Rica this


March 2018

  • Dr. Hernandez and Henry Adams traveled to Costa Rica to establish his salamander work there.

Dr. Sonia Hernandez
Dr. Sonia Hernandez
Anje Kidd
Anje Kidd
Charlie Bahnson
Charlie Bahnson
Henry Adams
Henry Adams

Spring & Summer 2017: Over this past spring and summer, a number of the Hernandez lab students were awarded various awards and scholarships and delivered public presentations.

  • Shannon Curry, who graduated with her PhD in June and is now a post doc in the lab, was awarded the Warnell School of Forestry's Teaching Assistantship award.

  • Sebastian Ortiz (PhD student) and Anjelika Kidd (M.S. student) were awarded the Warnell Young Alumni Scholarship for Leadership Training.

  • Jennifer Bloodgood, a previous PhD student of Dr. Hernandez and now a DVM student at UGA, was awarded the American Association of Wildlife Veterinarians Scholarship Award at this year's Wildlife Disease Association conference. Dr. Bloodgood also gave her presentation, "The Effect of Diet on the Gastrointestinal Microbiome of Rehabilitating Green Sea Turtles (Chelonia mydas) and its Implications for Released Individuals," at the same conference.

  • Sebastian Ortiz (PhD Student) was awarded the Graduate School Integrative and Interdisciplinary Research Grant (IIRG) and the Graduate School J.W. Fanning Fellowship Fund.

  • Henry Adams, an incoming Masters Student of Dr. Hernandez's, previously a research technician, was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. He will begin his studies and research Fall 2017.

June 11th - July 2nd, 2017: This past summer, Dr. Hernandez, along with Catie Welch and Henry Adams, taught her Costa Rican study abroad course, Conservation Medicine and Conservation Biology. This year's group consisted of 3 veterinary students and 11 undergraduates. Dr. Hernandez, Ms. Welch, and Mr. Adams directed the group through 3 weeks of intensive field based experiences, focusing on the topics of wildlife health, tropical ecological, tropical conservation, sustainable agriculture, local culture, etc.

February 20th, 2017: This past February, Dr. Sonia Hernandez was named one of three recipients of the Richard B. Russel Award for Undergraduate Teaching, the university's highest early career teaching honor. A HUGE congratulations to Dr. Hernandez and the other recipients. Click here to read the full UGA article covering the story.