Exciting news this week! Bryce and I have started working on our personal research projects under the mentorship of Dr. Krista Keller. Dr. Keller, scientist extraordinaire and assistant professor at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, allocates her time between teaching in the classroom, training young veterinarians during their clinical fourth year while seeing patients, and completing research projects.

One of her major research topics focuses on prognostic indicators for survival, which is basically trying to see if there is anything on physical examination or diagnostic testing that predicts survivability for an individual.

A wild mallard duckling seen at the WMC. This patient’s medical record will be included in Bryce’s data!

Along these lines, both Bryce and I are completing individual retrospective research projects on prognostic indicators for survival. Bryce’s project is connected to both the Wildlife Epidemiology Lab (WEL) and the Wildlife Medical Clinic (WMC). He is looking at initial physical exam findings of Anseriformes that come through the WMC to see if any of these findings are correlated with survivability.  My first question: what the heck are Anseriformes? They are an order of birds that include ducks, geese, and swan. Pretty cool stuff!

I did the same project as Bryce last year on eastern grey squirrels and discovered some pretty interesting findings. This year I am completing another retrospective on client-owned guinea pigs. I’m currently working on data collection and spending some great quality time with my computer.

So, what exactly is a retrospective study? As the name implies, it is a study that looks backwards at exposures to risks in relation to an established outcome. Both Bryce and I are using data points that already exist to examine possible relationships. So far, it’s been A LOT of staring at a computer screen and inputting 0s and 1s into an Excel spreadsheet, but that hasn’t stopped us from collecting hundreds of data points and getting excited to start working on our manuscripts!!

And don’t worry! We haven’t forgotten about our beardie friends. Stay tuned next week for a ridiculously cool study they have started participating in under Dr. Joanna Webb, the Zoological Companion Animal resident.

Ivana hanging out with one of the ten bearded dragons in the WEL colony