Sarah Kuchinsky received her bachelor’s degree in Biology from Butler University. Summers during college were spent gaining veterinary experience with the intention to apply to veterinary school soon after graduation. A semester abroad in Tasmania sparked her interest in conservation biology and served as the inspiration for her undergraduate thesis exploring comparative conservation efforts of endemic island species in Australia and the United States.
She felt that further veterinary and research experience as well as participation in a master’s program would better prepare her for veterinary school. Internships at a zoo and wildlife center solidified her desire to work outside of clinic walls. A fellowship with the Division of Veterinary Services within the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research exposed her to numerous facets of biomedical and veterinary research.
Sarah moved out of an urban area to the mountains of western Maryland where she obtained her master’s degree in Conservation Biology and Applied Ecology from Frostburg State University. At Frostburg she was able to pursue her love of wildlife and veterinary research through the lens of zoonotic disease. She evaluated the prevalence of Lyme disease causing bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, in ticks and rodents in a local state park. Her research is a classic example of One Health and showcases the inextricable link humans, wildlife and the environment share, with wildlife and zoonotic disease at the crux.
Passionate about the concept of One Health, Sarah wanted to combine wildlife research with traditional veterinary medicine by pursuing a veterinary science, PhD/DVM dual degree program. Her research at Virginia Tech seeks to understand the pathogenesis, transmissibility, and disease dynamics of Usutu Virus, a close phylogenetic and ecological relative of West Nile Virus.
In today’s world, many of our issues are multidimensional and require a multidisciplinary solution. Involvement with the IGC allows Sarah to take an active role in researching and evaluating the challenges facing human and wildlife populations in the scope of global change. She hopes to gain insights on how to effectively communicate her science to a variety of audiences so that collaboration and the development of resolutions to mitigate wildlife and zoonotic disease spread are possible.