Wildlife Disease Association

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WDA Student Awards

Photo Credit: Victoria Van de Vuurst grey crowned crane Balearica regulorum



The following student awards are offered annually, and selected winners are recognized at the annual international WDA conference. The aim of these awards is to recognize outstanding student research and scholarship in the field of wildlife health, encourage student participation in the Association and attendance at our annual international conference.

To learn more, click on each of the awards listed below.

The NEW DEADLINE for submission of SRRA and SSA applications is 25 January 2023 at 5 pm Samoa Standard time  (UTC-11)


This award is given to the student determined to have the best research project in the field of wildlife health or disease. The selected student is the keynote speaker during the student presentation session at the annual international WDA conference.


This award acknowledges outstanding academic and research accomplishment, productivity, and future potential in pursuit of new knowledge in wildlife health or disease. Two scholarships are awarded annually.

Questions on the SRRA or SSA Awards? Contact Co-Chair of the WDA Student Awards Committee: Stuart Patterson, student.awards@wildlifedisease.org.

WDA student members can compete for the following awards with oral or poster presentations at the annual international conference. 

Submit your abstract(s) via the conference website by the abstract deadline, which is 25 January 2023.


This award acknowledges outstanding oral presentation of research findings at the annual international WDA conference. 

Learn more about the 'history of the Terry Amundson Presentation Award' HERE.


This award goes to the best student poster detailing a wildlife disease or wildlife health research project presented at the annual international WDA conference.

Questions about the Presentation or Poster awards please contact chair of the Student Awards Committee: Michelle Verant, student.awards@wildlifedisease.org.

Student Award Recipients

Student Award Winners 2021 from the Virtual 69th Annual International Wildlife Disease Association and 14th Biennial EWDA meeting joint Conference

Student Oral Presentation Winners

Winner of the Terry Amundson Best Student Presentation Award:

Michelle Waligora based at the Wildlife Epidemiology Lab, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, USA for her presentation entitled: “Evaluating associations between environmental parameters and Ophidiomyces ophidiicola, the causative agent of ophidiomycosis (snake fungal disease)”

Michelle is a fourth-year veterinary student from the University of Illinois and student researcher for the Wildlife Epidemiology Lab. After graduation, Michelle will begin a small animal rotating internship with plans to pursue a zoo medicine residency. Her projects with the lab have focused primarily on reptile disease, hematology, and map-based data analysis. Fun fact: Michelle is fueled mostly by Oreos and optimism.

Terry Amundson Best Student Presentation Honourable mention:

Patrick Scherrer from the University of Bern, Vetsuisse Faculty, Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathobiology, Centre for Fish and Wildlife Health, Switzerland for his presentation entitled: “Toxoplasma gondii infection in the protected Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) in Switzerland”

Patrick Scherrer studied veterinary medicine at the Vetsuisse Faculty at the University of Bern from 2014 until 2019. During his studies he underwent several externships in wildlife medicine which took him to Belize and South Africa amongst others. After graduation Patrick completed a wildlife pathology internship at the Centre for Fish and Wildlife Health (FIWI), Bern. Since February 2021 Patrick started his doctoral thesis project about Toxoplasma gondii infection in protected wildlife in Switzerland: Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) (first part, 2021) and Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) (second part, 2022). This project is a collaboration between the FIWI and the Institute of Parasitology (also University of Bern).

Student Poster Presentation Winners:

Best Student Poster:

Kayla Buhler based at University of Saskatchewan, Canada for her poster entitled: “California serogroup viruses: Revealing the reservoir potential of cervids in Arctic and Subarctic ecosystems”.

Kayla is a PhD Candidate at the University of Saskatchewan that studies the transmission dynamics and distribution of zoonotic vector-borne pathogens in Arctic wildlife. As this region experiences 3 times the global rate of warming, her research identifies suitable wildlife reservoirs and sentinels and creates an essential baseline to monitor future changes in the prevalence of viral and bacterial diseases in keystone species, including polar bears, caribou and Arctic foxes.

Student Poster - Honorable mention:

Laia Casades Martí is a PhD student based at Spanish Game & Wildlife Research Institute-IREC CSIC–UCLM–JCCM, Spain for her poster entitled “Flavivirus infection of wild birds in a wildlife-livestock interaction gradient in continental Iberia.

Laia is a PhD student at the Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos (IREC), Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Ciudad Real, Spain. In 2016, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Veterinary Medicine at the CEU-Cardenal Herrera University in Valencia, Spain and went on to complete a master’s degree in Basic and Applied Research in Hunting Resources at IREC. West Nile fever has been showing its face in Spain for years. The researchers are aware of how silent this virus can be in terms of its expansion. Much remains to be done in this field of research, not only with West Nile fever, but with mosquito-borne vector-borne diseases. So, right now, pursuing this line would be ideal for Laia although she is not closed to new options and fields either.

Previous Student Award Winners

Click HERE for a PDF of previous Student Award winners.