My name is Anna and I am happy to be one of the three new country representatives for the UK. I am glad to work with Chloe and Isaac, as I don’t know if I would be able to put in enough time on my own. I am originally from Germany and did my undergrad in veterinary medicine at Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich, taking what wildlife and exotics electives I could get into. After graduating in 2010 I did a doctorate focussing on stress and zoonotic disease in human-animal interactions with small ruminants, while working in a practice for horses and companion animals. But the idea of practicing medicine in a more population oriented way and of working with wildlife was still in the back of my mind. So when I discovered the option to do a Distance learning Master in conservation medicine at the University of Edinburgh, I immediately signed up. I also quit my job to travel and volunteer with wildlife and in zoos where I got the chance (for example Tanzania, Canada and New Zealand). While writing up my master thesis on population models in conservation medicine I briefly took a job as product manager for equine health products, which financed things like a course in wildlife immobilisation and going to conferences. Then I got lucky and got a scholarship for an amazing PhD project at the University of Edinburgh and moved to the UK in September 2016. I am now studying leprosy in red squirrels and also working on expanding my public engagement skills, as the subject needs such careful communication to avoid any reactions that could interfere with red squirrel conservation. I am also volunteering with Edinburgh Zoo (every other Sunday) and once a month with the Scottish Wildlife Trust.
Never ask me about my research project, if you are not prepared to listen for at least 15 minutes – that is how excited I get about it. I love practical veterinary work (especially with wildlife, where it is often easier to just focus on the patient’s needs, not having to cater to owner wishes at the same time), but also the chance to hide in the lab or burry myself in books, and to get new perspectives on a problem. That’s where the transdisciplinary approach of conservation medicine appeals to me and I hope to share my enthusiasm about thinking outside the box with other students through EWDA. Beyond that I hope to be able to use my time as representative to help other students on their journey to starting a career in wildlife medicine, and help continue to create events where we can all get together and learn from each other as well as from established experts in the field of wildlife health. I am looking forward to the time ahead and hope to interact with many of you!