Hello readers! If you’re familiar with this blog welcome back for another summer of fun stories about field research. First time readers should be prepared to learn about wildlife and the work that goes into studying them. We are two veterinary students from the University of Illinois who will be journeying to the Kane County Forest Preserve to spend the summer working with the elusive Blanding’s turtle. Whether you are a turtle enthusiast or our parents (who we told to read this), we are excited to include you on our adventures this summer…

We will be sharing living quarters for the fieldwork stretch of our summer, so to comply with quarantine protocol the two of us have already begun living together. This means our “adventures” so far have really just consisted of sitting on the couch and joking around while filling out paperwork together. Pretty exciting, we know, but it’s all part of dealing with the unique problems that the pandemic have posed to us. COVID-19 works hard, but the Wildlife Epidemiology Lab researchers work harder.

Soon we’ll be getting out into the field and our posts will revolve more around standing in deep water and doing science. If you want to know more about the incredible turtles we will be studying or all of the awesome projects from previous years we urge you to explore the rest of this blog. And of course, we’ll be supplying plenty of facts and cute pictures of turtles as the summer progresses. We will be learning a lot this summer and our goal is for our readers to share some of that experience.

On to introductions:

Hi I’m Michelle Waligora and I am a rising third year veterinary student originally from Virginia. Through what feels like a random series of events and gut-based decision making I ended up in the midwest following my dream of becoming a veterinarian. I’m what I like to call a “cradle-veterinarian” because I’m one of those kids who wanted to be an animal doctor since they were old enough to talk. Where a three-year old learned the word “veterinarian” remains a mystery. Now as I pursue my DVM I get to appreciate the wide variety of options the degree offers. I would like to one day work with as many different species as possible, and I have a strong interest in surgery. Therefore I am drawn to the field of zoo medicine, as well as wildlife research, (but I also wouldn’t say no to a contract with Animal Planet). My career goals ultimately revolve around the One Health Initiative. Sometimes, when I remember I have a personality outside of being a vet student, I enjoy some normal person hobbies. I love to sketch, paint, read, and teach my dog useless tricks that give her way too much power in the household. As a roommate this summer, Alexis can look forward to me trying to learn harmonica and soaking everything I eat in hot sauce.


Hello! I’m Alexis Davidson and I will be a second year veterinary student originally from this fine state of Illinois. I am also a “cradle-veterinarian” that was first exposed to the field when I was two-years old and watched Dr. Doolittle. I completed undergrad here at UIUC and decided to stick around for the corn festival. I have a passion for conservation and non-traditional species; so a future in wildlife and zoo medicine would be the goal. Outside of the veterinary and animal world I enjoy hiking, photography, and traveling the world. With Michelle being a morning person and I a certified night owl, we are the basic formula for a sitcom.

Welcome to the blog!