The EWDA Student Boards welcomes our new country representative in Scotland: Sima Lionikaite!
My name is Sima Lionikaite and I am currently in my 3rd year of veterinary school at The Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh. I am interested in wildlife, conservation, and ecosystem health. Once I graduate I plan to pursue a career in Conservation Medicine. In 2013, I earned a first class honours degree in Zoology from the University of Aberdeen. During my undergraduate studies I focused heavily on wildlife management, ecology and conservation. For my honours thesis I worked in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Game Commission (USA) and their wildlife veterinarian to model the survival of orphaned black bear cubs in the state. I was also president of the Conservation Society for two years at Aberdeen and through that role I witnessed first-hand the link between ecosystem health and animal health. I am passionate about this link and the consequences that habitat fragmentation or destruction can have on species conservation, as well as, human health through the spread of zoonoses. My current training as a veterinary student in diseases and disease processes is crucial to elucidating parts of these links. I hope that in the future I have the chance to combine both of my degrees and study the effects of habitat change on disease spread in wildlife populations.
I was introduced to the WDA while working with bears in Pennsylvania and was excited to learn that the European WDA conference was being hosted in Edinburgh. As a member of the Zoological Society at the vet school, I volunteered to help out with the conference. I was inspired by the talks and wanted to help spread the word about EWDA to not only other vet students, but to ecologists, zoologists and conservation biologists alike. As a country representative for Scotland, I hope to establish an environment where young researchers and students like myself can network and get involved in wildlife disease research and conservation projects across Scotland. My penultimate goal would be to use the position to highlight the link between ecosystem health and wildlife health in conservation, fostering an interdisciplinary approach.