Lab News

Keep up to date with the goings on of the Hernandez Lab

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!

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.

  • Jennifer Bloodgood won the 2018 WDA Student Scholarship award.

  • Andrea Ayala received the AAUW Dissertation Completion Fellowship.

  • Anje Kidd and Becca Cozad successfully defended their MSc.

  • Charlie Bahnson, although not in our lab, won a first place award for his

        presentation on the work with avian influenza experimental at the Student

        Chapter of WDA symposium.

  • 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.

Spring 2018

  • Sebastian Ortiz (PhD Student) was awarded the Graduate School Travel Grant (as well as in 2015 and 2016).

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 11th - July 2nd, 2017

  • This 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.

Spring & Summer 2017

  • Over this 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)(as well as in 2016) and the Graduate School J.W. Fanning Fellowship Fund (also in 2016 and 2018).

  • 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.

February 20, 2017

  • 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.

October 28-31, 2016

  • During the Fall 2016 White Ibis Field Season, the primary investigators (PI) on the project, Sonia Hernandez, Erin Lipp, Jeff Hepinstall-Cymerman, Richard Hall, Emily Lankau, and Sonia Altizer (missing Kristen Navara), convened in South Florida for a very productive meeting during which they discussed the project's progression and future manuscripts and visited the research team in the field. The PIs, some of whom had not visited the field previously, had the opportunity to observe and participate in the capturing, handling, and sampling of the white ibises.

 ​Spring 2016

  • Sebastian Ortiz (PhD Student) was awarded Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources Robert W. and June C. Porterfield Memorial Scholarship and the Graduate School Travel Grant.

August  8th, 2016

  • This past week, the Hernandez Lab traveled to the 2016 Wildlife Disease Association Conference, hosted by Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. Many members of the lab presented posters, such as Anje Kidd (MS student), Jenny Bloodgood (PhD, DVM student) and Sebastien Ortiz (PhD student), or gave presentations, including Shannon Curry (PhD student), Maureen Murray (Postdoc), and Sonia Hernadez herself. Congratulations, everyone, for their hard work and a great conference!

April 7th, 2016

  • Dr. Maureen Murry, a post-doc working in the Hernandez lab on the White Ibis Project, gave a fantastic presentation on her work with urban coyotes that she did for her disertation. Her work focused on how urbanization, specifically anthropogenic food sources, within Edmonton, Alberta, Canada are affecting coyote behavior, disease, and human-coyote conflict. Click here to watch her presentation.

July 31-August 5th, 2016

  • ​Sebastian Ortiz gave a great poster presentation titled "Introduction and Establishment of Raccoon Rabies on Islands: Jekyll Island, Georgia as a Case Study." at the Wildlife Disease Association Annual International Conference in Cortland, NY.

Sep. 1st, 2015

  • Dr. Hernandez's research on Jekyll Island's feral cat populations was recently written about in an article published by National Geographic. Click here for the full article and videos on the subject.


May 17-20th, 2015

  • Sebastian Ortiz gave a greta poster presentation titled "Feeding Urban Wildlife: People and Pathogens" at the International Urban Wildlife Conference: The Wildlife Society's Urban Wildlife Working Group in Chicago, Illinois, USA.

January 2014

  • Catie Welch, current M.S. Student, and the White Ibis Project made it to the front page of the Florida Ornithological Society newsletter. Click here to read the article.


September 2013

  • Albert Mercurio, PhD student, recently published research on a novel approach to treating Athlete's Foot. The paper is "The cutaneous bacterium Janthinobacterium lividum inhibits the growth of Trichophyton rubrum in vitro," click here to read it. 


August 2013

  • Albert Mercurio, PhD student, won this year's Wildlife Disease Association International Conference's Terry Amundson Student Presentation Award. The award is quite prestigious and is given not only for oral delivery skills, but judges on scientific design, analysis and interpretation. His presentation was titled: "An Experimental Trial Induces Vacuolar Myelinopathy in Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta). 


May 2013

  • April Conway, PhD Student, successfully defended her dissertation on May 28, 2013. 

  • Albert Mercurio's proposal "Assessing Risks to Freshwater Turtles from Hydrilla and Stigonematales Invasions" has been selected to be funded for $19,372 through USFWS Aquatic Invasive Species Program.


April 2013

  • Kristy Segal was Runner-up in the 2013 UGA Three Minute Thesis™ Competition, with her topic Amphibian Health in Rice Fields in Costa Rica!


March 2013

  • The 2013 Wildlife Disease Student Symposium, co-hosted and sponsored by the UGA Wildlife Disease Association and the UGA Biomedical and Health Sciences Institute One Health Division was held on March 6. In addition to a poster session, three students were selected to give oral presentations of their research.

  • Whitney Kistler, MS, PhD Student, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, and SCWDS Surveillance for various pathogens and lead in American Black Ducks (Anas rubripes) from the northeastern and mid-Atlantic United States (View video of presentation) (Download pdf

  • Jesse Thomas, MS Student, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, and SCWDS Surveillance for Lymphoproliferative Disease Virus (LPDV) in Hunter-Killed Eastern Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) (View video of presentation) (Download pdf)

  • Jenn Ballard, DVM, PhD Student, Department of Population Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, and SCWDS Investigation of Wellfleet Bay Virus Epidemiology in the American Common Eider (Somateria mollissima dresseri) (View video of presentation)


February 2013

  • Shannon Curry, MS Student, won 2nd place for her poster presentation at the Warnell Graduate Student Symposium and won 2nd place at the Southeastern Recreation Research Conference for another presentation.

  • Shannon Curry was also awarded the Charles A. and Rose Lane Leavell Scholarship through Warnell.


December 2012

  • Viviana published, “Comparative Seroprevalence against Leptospira interrogans in Colombian Mammals along a Climatic Gradient,” in the Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine. Viviana also received a travel award from the Wildlife Disease Association.


November 2012

  • Dr. Hernandez and Kerrie Anne Loyd's KittyCam project received widespread media attention in August and September. Visit the KittyCams website to read or view some of the feature stories!

  • April Conway was chosen to be a Fullbright Alumni Ambassador.


October 2012

  • Albert won the Phillip M. Fields Scholarship from the South Carolina Aquatic Plant Management Society.

  • Dr. Hernandez won the Presidential Award from the American College of Zoological Medicine for her contribution as the Chair of the Education Committee.


September 2012

  • Kerrie Anne published , “Public Perceptions of Domestic Cats and Preferences for Feral Cat Management in the Southeastern United States ,” in Anthrozoos.


April 2012

  • April won first place in the University's Three Minute Thesis Competition. (Video) on March 29! Kerrie Anne is the 2012 recipient of the Warnell School's E.L. Cheatum award.


February 2012

  • Scientific American published April's blog article about her experiences in Sierra Leone with Pygmy Hippos!


November 2011

  • Dr. Hernandez, Kerrie Anne, Shaun and April attended the 18th Annual Wildlife Society Conference this month. Both Shaun and Kerrie Anne made presentations about their graduate research. 

  • April and her Fulbright experience are featured on the University of Georgia's Honors Program website!


August 2011

  • Chrissy attended the 60th Annual International Conference of the Wildlife Disease Association and presented a fabulous poster!


March 2011

  • Check out a recent feature on April Conway!

  • Congratulations to Albert Mercurio for earning second place in the proposal section at the Warnell Graduate Student Symposium this month!

  • We're also excited to share recent news that Viviana Gonzalez-Astudillo is the recipient of a Gerald B. and Charlotte Alexander Saunders Scholarship. The Warnell School Scholarship Committee chose her to receive this year's award. Congrats Viviana!


December 2010

  • Check out a recent news story for details on the Salmonella project! Accompanying photographs are from the first mesomammal and songbird sampling periods!


August 2010

  • Dr. Hernandez and Dr. Erin Lipp (UGA Environmental Health Science) were just awarded funding from the National Institute of Health to determine environmental (water, wildlife) sources of non-foodborne salmonellaes in two river watersheds in Georgia. April Conway, Dr. Hernandez and Co-PI Dr. John Carroll recently received the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Grant for April’s telemetry study of Pygmy Hippos in Sierra Leone. The lab is preparing to begin research later this fall on both of these exciting new projects!


June 2010 

  • Congratulations  to April Conway!!! April was awarded a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship in mid- April 2010 for her doctoral research in Sierra Leone. April was also the recipient of a Warnell Scholarship for the 2010-2011 year. Way to go April!

  • Kerrie Anne Loyd received a Morris Animal Foundation Scholarship to begin the Kitty Cams project this summer. Kerrie Anne was also chosen to visit the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis to work on a feral cat population model with expert ecological modelers early this summer. This experience helped her finish a project she and her co-author aim to publish in Conservation Biology later this year! 

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