Current Graduate Students


Shannon Curry

Shannon received her BA in Anthropology from UGA and subsequently worked as an archaeological and ecological interpretive ranger for the National Park Service. She joined Dr. Hernandez's lab as a masters student interested in studying wildlife disease ecology. Shannon is particularly interested in the effects of anthropogenic habitat use and food supplementation on avian health. Her thesis research investigates stress levels, immune function, and pathogen prevalence of White Ibis adults and nestlings in urbanized and human altered habitats throughout Florida. Shanon is also interested in public perceptions of urban wildlife, and she conducts research to investigate public attitudes toward and interactions with urban birds. Ultimately, Shannon seeks to better our understanding of the relationship between people and wildlife and contribute to more effective management strategies that both benefit the public and improve wildlife conservation. For more information, please visit the White Ibis Project page.


Albert Mercurio 

Albert uses research, instruction, and outreach to protect our planet's biodiversity. The driving force behind his professional career is to help us better understand how humans impact wildlife, explore solutions to these issues, and connect the public to science. His previous research has focused on amphibian health and biodiversity. More recently, he has explored how invasive species and disease affect turtles. His teaching research, as part of the Interdisciplinary Certificate in University Teaching, aims to understand how student driven learning can change perceptions of environmental issues. Finally, through outreach at Sandy Creek Nature Center, with the UGA Herpetological Society, and others he helps educate the public about science and nature. Interested in what Albert does? Please visit his website to learn more about his activities! https://sites.google.com/site/albertdmercurio/ .



Catie_WelchCatie Welch

Catie's passion for wildlife brought her to UGA to work towards her Masters degree. Growing up in south Florida, she spent much of it outdoors, where her interest in wildlife, and specifically birds, was ignited. She followed her interests and pursued a Bachelor of Science in Biology at Florida Atlantic University where she focused on GIS, ornithology, and land management.  After graduation, Catie worked with the Florida Park Service on an ongoing study of the endemic, endangered Florida Grasshopper Sparrow. She has also volunteered to assist in the research of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, Florida Scrub Jays, and White Ibises.  Her Master's thesis is focused on understanding how urbanization affects White Ibises (Eudocimus albus) in South Florida. She is utilizing radio telemetry and band re-sightings to determine site fidelity and, more importantly, the proportion of time ibises spend in an urban environment. For more information, please visit the White Ibis Project website!


Jenny Bloodgood

Jenny's background is in Wildlife Biology. She received her BS and MS from Clemson University. Her master's thesis focused on the effects of climate change on bald eagle egg-lay dates. Most recently, she served as the Curator of Veterinary Services at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. She is now pursuing a DVM/PhD, with the PhD being in Integrative Conservation in Forestry and Natural Resources. For her PhD research, she is studying the effects of diet on green sea turtle rehabilitation at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center (GSTC)on Jekyll Island, GA. She hopes to achieve this by comparing blood nutritional markers in captive and free-ranging green sea turtles. Ultimately, she hopes to develop a gel diet specifically for this unique species. The social aspect of her work involves surveying the public both at the GSTC and around Jekyll in order to determine people's attitudes toward and perceptions of sea turtles and rehabilitation. She hopes to use this information to aid the GSTC education department in the development of exhibits and programs.


Sebastian Ortiz

Sebastian has a background on environmental studies and biology. He was part of a study that compared the biodiversity of the Everglades natural and agricultural lands and human-made wetlands in South Florida. He also spent a summer tracking mammals in remnant tracts of the Atlantic rainforest in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Through these experiences he saw first hand the interconnection between human activity and nature as well as the power of the individual to influence the outcome of these interactions. Sebastian is pursuing a Ph.D in Integrative Conservation and believes in using a multidisciplinary approach and analyzing different points of view to find ways to balance relationships between humans and the natural world. He enjoys being in nature and sharing time with family and friends.


               Clym Gatrell


Clym is a PhD student in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources studying Wildlife Disease. Clym has always been interested in diseases, especially the interface between human and animal health. In the past, Clym has assisted with the rehabilitation of dolphins, whales, and manatees in Sarasota, Florida and has worked with dolphin conservationists in Peru. During his Masters program at UGA, Clym researched microhabitat use of North Georgia freshwater fish. His PhD research is with a KittyCam project taking place on Jekyll Island. He is also interested in the effects of domestic and feral cats on bird submissions to wildlife rehabilitation centers. Clym is motivated by the need to bridge the gaps between different disciplines within the scientific community and work towards a larger understanding of the most important questions of global health.


UGA & NGS Kitty Cams Project