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Graduate Students

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Aparna Mariyam Thomas Andrea Hanke Lakshmi Vineesha Seru Filip Rakic
Olivia Hee Erica Suitor

Aparna Mariyam Thomas

Aparna Mariyam Thomas

Aparna is veterinarian from Kerala, India. A strong interest in biology coupled with an earnest desire to understand the silent language of animals and their well-being motivated her to pursue her career as a veterinarian. She did master’s in Veterinary Parasitology ; her work was on “Multiplex real-time PCR and molecular characterization of canine tick-transmitted haematozoan parasites” which made her well-versed with molecular biological techniques by the end of her degree. She had been curious about wildlife during her college days as the field itself is very challenging. As a veterinary researcher, she is very enthusiastic to be a part of collaborative research in wildlife diseases that help conserve flora and fauna, check zoonotic diseases, and enhance the quality of nature as a whole. That’s how she joined Kutz’s research group in September 2021, as a master’s student and her current thesis work is on ‘Vector-borne parasitic diseases in Caribou’. She plans to clear NAVLE and wishes to contribute more to the field of animal welfare. Her hobbies include hiking, travelling, stitching, reading, and exploring a lot more!
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Olivia Hee

Olivia Hee

Olivia is a veterinarian from Alberta, Canada. She completed her BSc with Specialization in Animal Biology at the University of Alberta in 2016 and her DVM at the University of Calgary in 2020. During her veterinary curriculum, she participated in various clinical rotations, including a student research project looking at the efficacy of a laryngeal mask airway in anesthetized free-ranging bighorn sheep lambs, and a month in the Northwest Territories working with the GNWT and their wildlife veterinarian. Following graduation, she worked for a year in small animal general practice in Yellowknife, NT. She is currently a MSc student at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary, where her project focuses on the trace mineral status of muskoxen in the Arctic and the application of hair trace mineral levels as a monitoring tool.
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Andrea Hanke

Andrea Hanke

Andrea Hanke (they/them) is a Ph.D. candidate. Their family came to Canada from Germany and the U.K. Andrea grew up in London, Ontario with their parents and sister then moved to Thunder Bay, Ontario to complete their Bachelor of Science (Natural Science) and Honours Bachelor in Outdoor Recreation, Parks, and Tourism at Lakehead University. Andrea moved to Calgary to begin their MSc with Susan in 2017, then they transferred into the PhD program in 2019. They now live on unceded Coast Salish territory of the Lək̓ʷəŋən (lay-kwung-gen) Peoples in Victoria, British Columbia with their partner and 3 chickens. Andrea’s research is focused on the “Dolphin and Union” caribou herd. They work alongside Inuit Elders and harvesters to document and connect what they know about these caribou. The end goal for their research is to support co-management processes. Andrea aims to do this by creating collective accounts of Traditional knowledge around this herd and connecting Traditional knowledge and conventional Western science in ways that are consistent with both ways of knowing.
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Erica Suitor

Erica Suitor

Erica was born and raised on a farm in rural Alberta. She graduated from St. Mary’s University, Calgary with a BSc in Biology in May 2020. During her undergraduate degree she studied Yellow-rumped warblers which involved recording and comparing their song between an isolated population in Cypress Hills and the mainland population in Kananaskis to see if their songs were becoming distinct. Furthermore, Erica is also an avid hunter and has hunted for several years. Through her experience observing wildlife and being in nature she wanted to learn more about wildlife health and conservation. These experiences sparked her love for wildlife and encouraged her to pursue a Master’s of Science in Veterinary Medical Sciences, which she started in January 2021. She is now studying tooth breakage in muskoxen and the associated risk factors that can impact their health and population status. In her free time Erica loves to ride horses, ski, hike, hunt, and enjoy the beauty that Alberta has to offer.
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Lakshmi Vineesha Seru

Lakshmi Vineesha Seru

Vineesha is a veterinarian from India. She completed her undergraduate degree (B.V.Sc. & A.H.) from the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Veterinary Education and Research, Puducherry in 2017. Following graduation, she joined the Kodaikanal Society for the Protection and Care for Animals, Tamil Nadu, as a veterinary consultant. Soon afterward, her realization of her interests in zoonoses and One Health led her to enroll in the master’s degree in veterinary public health at the All India Institute of Hygiene & Public Health in 2018. During this time, she got trained in various aspects of community health diagnosis, preventive, and social medicine at the Urban Health Centre, Chetla and Rural Health Unit &Training Centre, Singur, West Bengal. She later carried out her master’s research at the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases focusing on the pheno-genotype characterization, development, and evaluation of heat-killed Salmonella enteritidis immunogen. Currently, she is pursuing her MSc under the supervision of Dr. Dongyan Niu and Dr. Susan Kutz at the University of Calgary. Her project focuses on understanding the molecular basis of pathogenicity of Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae, an organism that has been found to cause muskoxen mortalities in the Canadian Arctic. Her interests also lie in wildlife zoonoses and animal model development for disease studies. Beyond academics, she loves traveling and finds happiness in volunteering for animal welfare organizations.
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Filip Rakic

Filip Rakic

Filip is a recent graduate from the Wildlife Biology Program at McGill University, where he first began participating in northern research within the Humphries research group. These opportunities to experience working in arctic communities inspired him do an MSc with the Kutz research group, allowing him to gain experience in the domain of wildlife health. His current thesis project revolves around wildlife health surveillance of infectious disease in barren-ground caribou and its implications to conservation. He hopes to later attend veterinary college in order to apply and promote northern animal health.
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