Hi Jonathan,

how are you?

I am interested in conservation/disease in in wildlife. I have completed a Bachelor degree in Wildlife science, I am currently doing my masters in environmental science, which I will also do honours with, hopefully researching disease in wildlife for example  tassie devils/facial cancer, koalas/chlamydia, frogs/chytrid fungus...I am currently doing a small research project on tularensis in possums.

I would like to get into researching disease in wildlife...and I would hope to persue phd after i complete the masters/phd. I will be heading to the USA mid year next year, (for my partners work, for 2 yeras) which may put a hold on my phd....

i guess what I would like to know...how can I get into this sort of work? What subjects should I do? Do I need a good statistical background? Epidemiology? Molecular? Or will pregressing through my phd suffice?

Do you know any contacts in USA? How I could persue it there?(Boston). Or anywhere I could volunteer?



Dear Kate

Thanks you for your question. I also wish to thank the authors of the websites I used.

First of all, I don't know much about epidemiology and animal diseases, although I have heard about problems facing koalas and Tasmanian devils and I would like to think that you would be able to help the survival of marsupials. I have been interested in marsupials for many years and did my specialist essay on marsupials as part of my degree. I'm afraid I don't have any contacts in the USA, although I have visted San Diego, Los Angeles, Honolulu and New York.

http://www.2ndchance.info/raisepossum-Johnson-Delaney2006.pdf will give you some idea about the kind of work currently being done on marsupial diseases.

I suggest that you contact organisations that deal with wildlife diseases, as I understand the problems with choosing right and wrong courses, especially if they are expensive and give no guarantee of employment in a chosen field. It may also be worthwhile talking with colleagues on your course or with a careers advisor to obtain up to date advice.

http://www.wildlifedisease.org/WDA/default.aspx gives information about the Wildlife Fisease Association (WDA). It may be worthwhile asking for advice. http://www.wda-aust.org/ gives information about the Australian branch of the WDA.

http://www.wda-aust.org/ gives details of Centers of Wildlife Disease Research and Diagnosis in North America. I hope that one of these is based near where your partner works.

I'm sorry that I can't supply more accurate information, but I wouldn't want to mislead you by pretending that I know more than I actually do. In the UK, some students are paying up to 27,000 for a 3-year degree and there is no guarantee that the degree will help them achieve their career goals. I wouldn't want you to be misled and I like the idera of people trying to save marsupials for future generations, especially as mor 'popular' animals are getting far more publicity than some of the critically endangered marsupials.

All the best


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Jonathan Wright


I can answer questions about wild mammals and other animals, as well as extinct animals and zoos. I am not an expert about every animal species. I can look up information from books and the internet, but can't verify if all the information is true. Please don't ask questions about: 1. Pets. I am not a vet. Please contact a vet if your pet is ill. You may need to spend some money if you want your pet to live. Don't get a pet if you don't know how to look after it and if you can't provide it with the space, food and possible companions that will help it live a healthy life. Don't take animals from the wild, unless they are ill and/or injured and you can protect them until a wildlife charity can help. It is cruel to take animals from their parents, especially if the parents will look for the babies, while putting their other babies at risk. You may be breaking the law by keeping wild animals or you may need a licence to look after some species. Please check with a local wildlife group. 2. Eggs: Please don't remove eggs from nests. The mother birds provide the right temperature for the eggs and won't sit on them if the temperature is warm enough for them to develop naturally. It is illegal to remove eggs of some species and, unless you have an incubator or a broody hen, the egg may not develop. If you are allowed to touch the eggs, you can candle them to see if they are fertile. If theys aren't fertile, they won't hatch. 3. Fights: Please don't ask about fights between different animals. These questions assume that individuals of two species fight each time they meet and that one species will always be victorious over another. This is untrue. There are cases where a live mouse has been fed to a venomous snake, bitten the snake leading to the snake's demise. 4: Diseases: Please ask doctors or other medical experts about diseases that you may catch from animals. I can't advise on how to deal with viruses, bacteria etc.


I have a zoology degree and have been interested in animals since I was two. I am a zoo volunteer at London Zoo. I have appeared on a BBC Radio Quiz, 'Wildbrain'.

WWF. ZSL. Natural History Museum. RSPB. London Bat Group.

Newsletters of London Zoo volunteers and the London Bat Group

BSC degree in Zoology. 'A' level in Zoology. 'O' Level in Biology.

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