Dr. Matt Allender

Dr. Matt Allender
Lab Director

Dr. Allender is a zoo and wildlife veterinarian that graduated from the University of Illinois in 2004 with his DVM. He went on to complete a MS investigating the health and disease of box turtles and massasauga rattlesnakes prior to completing a residency in Zoological Medicince at the University of Tennessee and Knoxville Zoo. He then joined the faculty at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois and jointly completed a PhD studying the Epidemiology of Ranavirus in free-ranging chelonians. He currently teaches, performs research, and provides clinical service for free-ranging and captive wildlife. College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois Bio Page.

Dr. Krista Keller

Dr. Keller is a veterinary specialist in Zoological Medicine with a passion for Zoological Companion Animals, or non traditional species that are a part of a human family. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Clinical Medicine at the College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Keller teaches, performs research and provides clinical service for captive zoological patients. Her current research is exploring the epidemiology of cutaneous mycosis (Nannizziopsis spp.) in companion lizards and elucidating prognostic indicators in captive wildlife.

Dr. Laura Adamovicz

Dr. Laura Adamovicz
Research Scientist

Dr. Adamovicz is a 2012 DVM graduate of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. She joined the lab in 2015 as a PhD Fellow and completed her PhD in 2018. Her project assessed the wellness of wildlife indicated by the health of the eastern box turtle, ornate box turtle, and silvery salamander. Currently, Dr. Adamovicz is continuing her research program at the lab, mentoring students, and developing diagnostic assays to further the lab goal of saving the world.

Emilie Ospina holds a box turtle.

Emilie Ospina, MS
Research Associate

Emilie is a research associate and technician for the Wildlife Epidemiology Lab. She completed a MS at the University of Illinois in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences. Emilie performs diagnostic assays and assists in on-going research projects in the lab.

Dr. Ellen Haynes

Dr. Ellen Haynes is a third year PhD student studying the epidemiology and treatment of Snake Fungal Disease. She earned her DVM from Cornell in 2013 and joined the lab in 2017.

Jeremy Rayl

Jeremy, a 3rd year veterinary student, completed his PhD in Comparative Biosciences with a focus on wildlife epidemiology as part of the Veterinary Medical Scholars Program. He researched the immune function of turtles in response to ranavirus in the lab and in the field. He has been a part of many other projects during his extended time with the WEL, and he particularly enjoys work with RNA in both host and pathogen.

Kayla Boers

Kayla Boers

Kayla is a 4th year veterinary student who is involved in numerous projects for the turtle team. She is investigating the role the canine search team has in the transmission of turtle pathogens.

Katie Hayward

Katie is a 4th year veterinary student that spent the Summer in Tennessee with the Clinch River Environmental Studies Organization teaching students and collecting samples to test for diseases in reptiles and amphibians.

Erin Newman

Erin Newman

Erin is a 4th year veterinary student who spent the Summer in the Chicagoland area assessing the health of Blanding’s turtles. Her research focuses on using CT scans to measure body condition in turtles.

Evan Emmel

Evan Emmel

Evan is a 4th year veterinary student. His research investigates thermography in the health assessment of free-ranging box turtles.

Brittany Willeford

Brittany Willeford

Brittany is a 4th year veterinary student. She investigated mosquitoes as a potential vector for infectious diseases in free-ranging reptiles and amphibians.

Seema Patel

Seema Patel

Seema is a 4th year veterinary student. She spent the Summer in Ohio surveying for snake fungal disease.

Jessica Huntington

Jessica Huntington

Jessica is a 4th year veterinary student. Her research involves blood smears of snakes with snake fungal disease.

Megan Britton

Megan Britton

Megan is a 3rd year veterinary student that is involved in numerous projects with the lab, focusing on the geographical distribution of snake fungal disease.

Sam holds an Eastern Box Turtle.

Samantha Johnson

Samantha is a 3rd year veterinary student. Her research is looking at the detection and prevalence of Mycoplasma in alligator snapping turtles in Illinois.

Marta Kelly

Marta is a 4th year student that has worked on various projects with box turtles, Blanding’s turtles, alligator snapping turtles, and snakes. Her research includes investigating disinfectant strategies for snake fungal disease. After graduation, she plans to continue conservation efforts through public education in a small animal medicine setting.

John Winter

John is a 4th year veterinary student who has been involved in multiple projects in the lab through chelonian field work and lab animal care for snakes, turtles, and bearded dragons. He has authored two publications with the lab including assessing leukocyte quantification methods in box turtles and pathogen prevalence in Blanding’s turtles. In the future, John would like to develop a career in zoo and conservation medicine and research.

Lauren Mumm

Lauren is a 4th year veterinary student. Her research involves analyzing hematology and plasma biochemistries of the state-endangered Blanding’s turtle.

Megan Gramhofer

Megan is a 4th year veterinary student with a passion for snakes. Her research involves looking at snake fungal disease and educating the public on the importance and value of snakes.

Taylor Jones

Taylor is a 4th year veterinary student. Her project focuses on detecting the prevalence of herpesvirus in Alligator Snapping Turtles.

Caitlin Hemby

Caitlin is a 4th year veterinary student who assists with animal care for the lab. Her focus is on projects involving fungal disease in bearded dragons.

Kirsten Andersson

Kirsten is a 3rd year veterinary student with a passion for zoological and conservation medicine. She has spent the last two summers doing fieldwork with Blanding’s turtles and is working on a case study associated with one of the turtles. She is also conducting research with plasma protein levels and how those might be an indication of the health in this particular Blanding’s population. She is excited to see how these projects continue to impact this species!


Bryce Dibadj

Bryce is a 3rd year veterinary student. His research involves determining if snake fungal disease can be detected in snake sheds, a retrospective study on Anseriformes survival and determining a method for producing thrombocyte/leukocyte rich plasma in bearded dragons.

Katy Klein

Katy is a 3rd year veterinary student that is excited about all Zoological Species. This past summer she was co-turtle team leader, where she helped fellow veterinary students learn and improve on reptile handling and blood collection. She is currently finishing her manuscripts on her two latest projects: eastern box turtle (EBT) lactate levels and EBT hematologic differences using two different anticoagulants.

Ivana Levy

Ivana is a 3rd year veterinary student that is excited to pursue a career in zoological companion species. She is currently working on four research projects that are focused on prognostic indicators for survival in guinea pigs, rats, and eastern grey squirrels. She has loved working in the research lab because of the hands on experiences as well as the group collaboration. Her favorite animal colony is the bearded dragons.

Brina Gartlan

Brina is a 4th year veterinary student who loves all wildlife, but specifically reptiles and amphibians. Her latest project assessed ocular health in Eastern and Ornate box turtles!