Wildlife Disease Association

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WDA Student Awards

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



The WDA's mission has a strong focus on nurturing up-and-coming wildlife health professionals, as they provide a tantalising and inspiring glimpse of what is to come. We want to celebrate young researchers by recognising their passion, their commitment and their potential, and the WDA Student Awards are the ideal vehicle to achieve this. They are an investment in the future of wildlife health globally.

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 2022 from the 70th Annual International Wildlife Disease Association Conference

Student Oral Presentation Winners

Winner of the Terry Amundson Best Student Presentation Award:

Janine Mistrick, University of Minnesota - “Effect of Food Addition and Helminth Removal on Spatial Overlap Networks in Wild Bank Voles”.

I’m part of a research team conducting a large-scale field experiment in southern Finland where we are manipulating food availability and helminth infection in wild bank voles to investigate the effects on transmission of an endemic hantavirus. I am using spatial network analyses to examine how the manipulations affect vole space use and spatial overlap and how this could impact transmission.

As a side angle of my dissertation I’m sequencing the bacterial community of feces from wild Peromyscus mice to examine the presence and diversity of foodborne and pathogenic bacteria across a rural-urban habitat gradient in Minnesota.

I’m excited about wildlife disease ecology and I love conducting field research because it enables me to really engage with my study system and experience the interactions I’m studying first-hand. I plan to continue pursuing my passion as a post-doc after my PhD, hopefully studying the interactions between the environment, wildlife and their pathogens and traveling to new big, beautiful places.

Check out Janine’s presentation

Terry Amundson Best Student Presentation Honourable mention:

Olivia Choi, University of Maine - “Avian haemosporidian infection and cloacal bacterial diversity in Maine waterfowl”.

I am a PhD candidate in the Ecology & Environmental Science program at the University of Maine in my final year of study. My current research focuses on migratory birds, exploring how movement, such as migration, impacts pathogen transmission and host microbiome composition. There are large gaps in our understanding of the microbiome communities of wildlife and even less is known about the interaction of pathogens, movement and the microbiome.

In my research, I use molecular techniques to investigate how these three factors interact in host-pathogen community dynamics. With next-generation sequencing becoming increasingly affordable and new technologies improving the way we study pathogens, I am excited to see where this research takes me and the field.

I will complete my PhD in 2023 and afterwards, I plan to continue my study of wildlife disease ecology, specifically in zoonotic diseases. I hope to continue adding to my repertoire of molecular techniques and apply what I’ve learned to new study systems.

Check out Olivia's presentation

Student Poster Presentation Winners:

Best Student Poster:

Alaina Woods, University of Maine - “Co-infection of anaplasma and winter tick decreases moose calf survival in Maine”.

My current research is focused on parasitic infections in the Maine moose populations. Moose populations in Maine are hypothesized to be in decline due to severe winter tick parasitism.

However, wildlife population declines are often caused by more than one factor.

My research leverages a combination of samples collected from hunter-harvested and live captured moose to address multiple objectives regarding the relationship between moose and their parasites. We are aiming to: (1) determine the impacts of co-infecting parasites on moose fitness; (2) evaluate risk factors associated with parasitic infection; and (3) explore if there is a genomic component to parasite tolerance in moose. Furthermore, using social science methodologies we plan to determine how information regarding the moose-winter tick system is communicated in news media.

I have enjoyed working with the moose-parasite system in Maine and would like to continue participating in research that evaluates parasitic impacts on large cervids in the future.

View Alaina’s winning poster HERE.

Student Poster - Honorable mention:

Jayne Ellis, Michigan State University- “Novel avibacterium species associated with sinusitis and conjunctivitis in merriam’s wild turkey in Colorado”.

I am a current dual veterinary pathology and toxicology resident at Michigan State University.

The research I presented at WDA was on a project I worked on with Colorado Parks and Wildlife during veterinary school, exploring a novel species of Avibacterium associated with sinusitis and conjunctivitis in wild turkeys – find our open access article in the latest volume of the Journal of Wildlife Diseases

Currently I am working on three projects including a multi-agency collaborative publication on highly pathogenic avian influenza in mammals across the United States, an exploration of a mortality event in white ibis exposed to theatrical fog at a Halloween event, and surveillance for avian bornavirus in free-ranging raptors.

I am looking forward to staying connected to this field through my research while completing my residency training.

Eventually, I hope to work in a position where I collaborate with biologists, clinical veterinarians and policy makers, to incorporate what I’ve learned through my training and research to positively impact wildlife health and conservation.

See Jayne’s poster HERE.

Previous Student Award Winners

Click HERE for a PDF of previous Student Award winners.