VandeWoude Alumni

Elisa Behzadi, M.S.

Elisa was born and raised in Maryland and obtained a B.S. in Animal Sciences from University of Maryland. Elisa came to Colorado to work with wolves and horses in the Sangre De Cristo Mountain range. After living and working with animals in a sustainable environment, Elisa was inspired to obtain an M.S. in Toxicology to further explore the interactions between human, animal, and environmental health on a macroscopic and molecular level. Elisa’s background encompasses work in non-profit and veterinary clinic settings. Elisa worked as a Research Associate I in the VandeWoude lab. Elisa is now obtaining her DVM from CSU in Alaska.

Sarah Bevins, Ph.D.

Dr. Bevins went from Flagstaff, Arizona to Bar Harbor, Maine where she completed her undergraduate degree in Ecology at College of the Atlantic. She then earned her Ph.D. at Colorado State University before joining the VandeWoude lab as a postdoctoral fellow. Her work in the VandeWoude lab focused on managing and analyzing pathogen data from overlapping populations of wild and domestic felid species. She is currently a Research Scientist at the USDA National Wildlife Research Center. Her research interests include emerging wildlife pathogens and the role of non-native wildlife and disease vectors in pathogen transmission and persistence. She’s also been known to occasionally wield a badger.

Elliott Chiu, D.V.M., Ph.D.

Elliott was born in Saskatchewan and lived in Canada before moving to the United States. He completed his B.S. in biology and M.S. in environmental science at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA. During his time in Philadelphia, he worked at GlaxoSmithKline performing drug metabolism and pharmacokinetic research on pre-clinical drug compounds for heart failure. Elliott’s masters thesis took him to West Africa where he studied the feeding ecology of the Fea’s chameleon, an endemic chameleon to Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea. While completing the combined D.V.M./Ph.D. program at CSU, his work focused on the influence of genetics on infection and pathogenesis of feline leukemia virus in bobcats and mountain lions. Elliott is interested in disease ecology and infectious diseases of wildlife. Elliott is now completing his pathology residency at U.C. Davis.

Katelyn Erbeck​

Katelyn was born and raised in Colorado and completed her B.S. in Microbiology at CSU. Before joining the SVRG, she worked a mycobacteria research labs on campus where she found a passion for lab work. Her VandeWoude lab research involved feline leukemia viral infections within a hybrid leopard domestic cat colony. Katelyn’s interests are in infectious disease and epidemiology. Now graduated, she has completed her MS and works at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital’s Diagnostic Lab performing molecular testing.

Erick Gagne, Ph.D.

Erick grew up in Philadelphia, a city that provides great outdoor opportunities as well as easy escapes to the beach or mountains that fostered his passion for the natural world. He obtained a Bachelor of Science from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. Erick holds a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Tulane University. He completed his post-doctoral research at the University of Wyoming and Colorado State University, where his work used genomic data to determine how landscape characteristics shape disease spread in wildlife. In addition, his research was investigating disease spillover -transmission of a pathogen from a reservoir host population to a novel host- between domestic animals, wildlife, and humans. Erick is currently an assistant professor of wildlife disease ecology at the University of Pennsylvania College of Veterinary Medicine.

Sally Kuhn

Originally from Fairbanks, Alaska, Sally completed her B.S in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience at Colorado State University. Before joining SVRG, Sally worked in cellular and molecular neuroscience research as well as cognitive psychology research. She took a gap year to gain further research and laboratory experience in molecular techniques before pursuing graduate school. Sally worked in SVRG as a lab technician and also helped with laboratory administrative duties.

Simona Kraberger, Ph.D.

Originally from New Zealand Simona joined the VandeWoude lab at Colorado State University as a Postdoctoral Researcher in 2015 to work on a NSF funded project investigating infectious diseases in the North American Puma. Her main focus in this project was to explore the genetic diversity, evolutionary dynamics and movement of three feline viruses (Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), Feline Foamy virus (FFV) and Feline Leukemia virus (FeLV) infecting the Puma and other felid species . Now Simona is an assistant research scientist in the Varsani lab at Arizona State University where she works on understanding viral evolution in a wide range of viruses in animals, plants, and various environmental samples.

Carmen Ledesma Feliciano, D.V.M., Ph.D.

Originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, Carmen obtained her Animal Science bachelors degree at the University of Maryland, College Park. She obtained her veterinary degree at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in the Public/Corporate track. Right afterwards she entered the combined Comparative Medicine Residency/Ph.D. program at CSU, where she joined the SVRG lab to work with Feline Foamy Virus. Carmen now works in Dr. Eric Poeschla’s laboratory with research work focusing on feline and mouse transgenic models for HIV and autoimmunity at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

Justin Lee, D.V.M., Ph.D., D.A.C.V.P.

Justin was born and raised in Idaho, then moved to New Orleans, LA where he completed his undergraduate degree (B.S. – biochemistry) at Tulane University. After graduating from Tulane, Justin worked for the Tulane University Center for Bioenvironmental Research. Prior to beginning the D.V.M./Ph.D. program at CSU in 2007, Justin (knowing he was about to commit 8 more years of his life in school) spent 4 years working, playing, and traveling around the world. Justin’s research focuses on the ecology and evolution of feline immunodeficiency virus in bobcats and mountain lions. Justin is passionate about learning how to generate and utilize genetic data to answer ecological questions, specifically those focusing on the health, disease, and conservation of wildlife. Away from school Justin enjoys outdoor living, campfires, and enjoying local beer wherever it is he may be traveling.

Jennifer Malmberg, D.V.M., Ph.D., D.A.C.V.P.

Dr. Malmberg was born in Colorado but spent the majority of her childhood as a sports-crazed tomboy in rural Nebraska. In pursuit of an intellectual challenge and a means of understanding the natural world, Jenn moved to Fort Collins with high hopes of going to vet school at CSU. Jenn became Dr. Malmberg in May of 2013, graduating from vet school with a strengthened desire to further explore mechanisms of disease and the ecological drivers of host-pathogen interactions. Dr. Malmberg completed her combined Ph.D. and residency in anatomic pathology program in late 2018. Her work in the VandeWoude lab was focused on the ecology and evolution of naturally occurring retroviruses in free-ranging felids including pumas and bobcats. Dr. Malmberg is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Veterinary Sciences at University of Wyoming. She splits her time between research, teaching, and diagnostic pathology at the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory.

Clara Mankowski

Clara is originally from Severna Park, Maryland. She is in her senior year as an undergraduate at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, where she is double majoring in Biology and Environmental Science. Clara is thrilled to have had the opportunity to be in Colorado working with the VandeWoude lab for her senior year. She is intent on pursuing graduate studies in disease ecology, specifically in emerging zoonotic diseases and the effect of anthropogenic environmental changes on disease emergence.

Craig Miller, D.V.M., Ph.D., D.A.C.V.P.

Dr. Miller received both his B.S. in Microbiology and his DVM from Colorado State University. During his undergraduate and veterinary studies, Dr. Miller worked under Drs. Helle Bielefeldt-Ohmann, Randall Basaraba, and Sue VandeWoude on various research projects that studied iron chelation mechanisms of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and pathologic features of neuroAIDS development in feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) infected cats. Following vet school, Dr. Miller entered the combined Ph.D./Anatomic Pathology residency program at CSU. His Ph.D. research was centered on the study of complex interactions between FIV and the immune system, with specific interest in transmission mechanisms and oral pathogenesis, novel vaccination strategies, immunomodulatory effects, and features of oral mucosal immunity during viral infection. Dr. Miller is now an Assistant Professor and Anatomic Pathologist at Oklahoma State University.

Esther Musselman, M.S.

Esther Musselman came to Fort Collins to complete a B.S. in Animal Science at CSU and then decided to pursue a Master’s degree as well. She completed a M.S. in Environmental Health with a Specialization in Toxicology at Colorado State in 2013. She started out in animal care in the Retrovirus & Prion Research Lab during her masters. Esther worked as a Research Associate between the Vandewoude, Hoover and Mathiason laboratories from 2013-2017. She coordinated the in vivo studies for the Vandewoude Lab and managed animal care. Esther purposed her dream of going to vet school in 2018 and currently is working to complete her D.V.M. at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine.

Raegan Petch

Raegan is a Colorado native, born and raised in Elbert, Colorado. She majored in Microbiology with a Spanish minor at CSU. Her future goals are to attend veterinary school and pursue a Ph.D.. In the VandeWoude lab, she enjoyed learning about all aspects of lab research and is particularly interested in studying zoonotic diseases in the future. Raegan has spent several years volunteering on the medications team of the National Mill Dog Rescue in Peyton, CO and also the Colorado Animal Welfare League with their spay and neuter clinics. She is passionate about working with animal rescues in the future.

Jordan Powers

Jordan Powers pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from CSU after growing up in Fort Collins. Jordan joined the team at SVRG to conduct a project centered around characterizing the spread of viruses in a privately held hybrid domestic cat (Felis catus)-leopard cat (Prionailarus bengalensis) colony. Interactions between endogenous and exogenous Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) in the colony and risk factors for infection and disease spread were also evaluated in this study. Currently, Jordan is a microbiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researching methods to construct virus like particles using the envelope proteins of viruses in the family Flaviviridae.

Cassidy Stone

Originally from New Mexico, Cassidy completed a biomedical sciences undergraduate degree in 2018 in hopes of joining the field of veterinary medicine due to her passion of working with animals while growing up. She worked on research with synergistic drugs acting against antibiotic resistance and cancer research during this time, but transitioned to being a veterinary technician and volunteering at wildlife centers. In 2018, she started CSU’s D.V.M. program, with hopes to work in a mixed animal practice upon graduating. Joining SVRG she hoped to aid in the understanding of feline viruses and their significance.

Britta Wood, MS, PhD

Britta was a PhD student in the VandeWoude Laboratory between 2009-2013. Her research included the development and validation of multiplex microsphere immunoassays for evaluating cytokine and antibody responses of domestic cats, and then using these assays to investigate the immune response of domestic cats infected with host-adapted and/or non-host adapted (cross-species) lentivirus strains. Since graduating from CSU, Britta has been working in the World Reference Laboratory for Foot-and-Mouth Disease at The Pirbright Institute, UK.