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Celebrating the Achievements of Recent Cornell Veterinary Medicine Alumni: Saving the World is a Growth Industry!

The Cornell Wildlife Health Center is proud to highlight and celebrate some of the latest achievements of recent graduates from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine pursuing career paths in wildlife conservation and One Health.

Zack Dvornicky-Raymond ’15, DVM ’19 – David E. Wildt Fellow in Zoological Medicine, Fossil Rim Wildlife Center

Dr. Zack Dvornicky-Raymond completed his undergraduate and veterinary degrees at Cornell University. He then went on to complete a one-year rotating internship in small animal medicine and surgery at VCA West LA, and currently is a Specialty Intern in Zoological Medicine and Surgery at Colorado State University. Dr. Dvornicky-Raymond has also published two papers since graduation, on the topics of cardiosurgery in the domestic cat and non-invasive pregnancy detection in wild ungulates. In July, he will be headed to the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas, as the David E. Wildt Fellow in Zoological Medicine.

“I’m incredibly excited to be joining the team at Fossil Rim and to be taking this critical next step into a lifelong career in conservation,” said Dvornicky-Raymond. “I look forward to bringing the skills and knowledge I’ve gained since graduation to this fellowship and learning to work in an entirely new setting. I feel honored to be joining such a skilled, passionate team and spending each day caring for, learning about, and helping to promote the conservation of endangered species.”

Zack Dvornicky-Raymond shown with a giraffe
Zack Dvornicky-Raymond ’15, DVM ’19. Photo provided.

Sarah Balik ’15, DVM ’19 – Veterinary Fellow, National Aquarium

Following graduation from Cornell University, Dr. Sarah Balik completed a rotating internship in small animal medicine and surgery at Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts. She is currently the Aquatic Animal Health Specialty Intern at the University of Florida. “I have spent the past year working in aquaria, zoos, and wildlife rehabilitation settings,” said Balik. “My favorite part has been being able to participate in marine animal rescue and rehabilitation with state, nonprofit and other partners. I have especially enjoyed caring for Florida manatees and sea turtles.” Dr. Balik is also working on research projects and presented a poster on her work at the International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine conference in May.

This summer, she will start a two-year position as the Veterinary Fellow at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, where she will have the opportunity to work with animals in the collection, conduct research, and also participate in the rehabilitation of rescued wild pinnipeds and sea turtles. In addition to aquatic animal and zoological medicine, her professional interests include wildlife conservation, disease ecology and epidemiology.

Sarah Balik shown with two tortoises
Sarah Balik ’15, DVM ’19. Photo provided.

Melissa Hanson, DVM ’19 – Resident in Zoological Medicine, Cornell University

Dr. Melissa Hanson graduated from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2019 and then spent a year in a small animal rotating internship at the Animal Medical Center in New York City. After matching for the Zoological Medicine Residency position at Cornell, she headed back up to Ithaca for another three years. For the clinical component of the residency, Dr. Hanson rotates through the services at the Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Hospital, Cornell University Hospital for Animals’ Exotic Pet Service, and the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York. She also conducts research: “I’m excited to be investigating biochemical markers of emaciation and nutritional recovery in wild red-tailed hawks with the support of Cornell’s resident research grant, and to be working towards becoming an American College of Zoological Medicine (ACZM) diplomate,” said Hanson.

Melissa Hanson with sea turtle
Melissa Hanson, DVM ’19. Photo provided.

Isabel Jimenez ’15, DVM ’19 – Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Resident in Comparative Medicine, Johns Hopkins University

Dr. Isabel Jimenez completed her undergraduate and veterinary degrees at Cornell University, earning her DVM with Distinction in 2019. Dr. Jimenez then completed a rotating internship in small animal medicine and surgery at the Animal Medical Center in New York City, before moving to Maryland to work as an associate veterinarian in Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine. In July, Dr. Jimenez will start a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship and Residency in Comparative Medicine at Johns Hopkins University, which combines clinical residency training in laboratory animal medicine and research leading to a PhD.

During her years at Cornell, Dr. Jimenez was heavily involved in research. As a vet student, she published papers on rabies virus in striped skunks, vector-borne diseases in domestic dogs in the Galápagos, and surgical approaches to the stomach in the snapping turtle. Since graduation, she has published several case reports about jaguars, leopards, and silver leaf langurs. Dr. Jimenez’s diverse interests include comparative anatomy, minimally invasive surgery, adaptation of surgical techniques to non-traditional species, and One Health, specifically immunology and infectious disease and how human activities result in blurring of the human-wildlife-domestic animal interface. She hopes to incorporate both research and teaching into her future career.

Isabel Jimenez shown with a kiwi bird
Isabel Jimenez ’15, DVM ’19. Photo provided.

Eric Teplitz, DVM ’20 – PhD Candidate in Biomedical & Biological Sciences, Cornell University

Dr. Eric Teplitz graduated from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2020 and is currently working as a livestock veterinarian through the Food Animal Field Service Internship program at PennVet. This fall, Dr. Teplitz will start a PhD program in Biomedical & Biological Sciences at Cornell University, during which he will engage in global health research and study population medicine and epidemiology. He is primarily interested in studying the intersections between food systems, human nutrition, and environmental health in sub-Saharan Africa.

“While I thoroughly enjoy working with cattle, sheep, and goats (and the occasional backyard chicken) in a clinical setting, my career interests are focused on the systems-level in global health,” says Teplitz. “I aim to apply my livestock-focused veterinary knowledge/skills to improve rural livelihoods and environmental health in the developing world.”

Eric Teplitz shown with a calf
Eric Teplitz, DVM ’20. Photo provided.

Ben Jakobek, DVM ’20 – Resident in Zoological Medicine, University of Montréal

Dr. Ben Jakobek earned his DVM from Cornell University in 2020. He is currently completing a small animal rotating internship at the Atlantic Veterinary College in Canada. In June, he will head to the University of Montréal to start a 3-year ACZM-accredited Zoological Medicine Residency with an emphasis on free-ranging wildlife. “The position involves a substantial amount of time with the wildlife pathology service, the Granby Zoo, the Aquarium of Québec, the University of Montréal Raptor Clinic, and federal and provincial agencies,” says Jakobek. During the program, he will also pursue a master’s degree in wildlife epidemiology or a related field.

Dr. Jakobek expressed his eagerness to collaborate with Cornell faculty and alumni at any opportunity, and hopes to continue strengthening and building his Cornell relationships into the future. Dr. Jakobek also shared this quote from Rachel Carson as a reminder to admire our natural world: “Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth, are never alone or weary of life.”

Ben Jakobek shown with a young moose
Ben Jakobek, DVM ’20. Photo provided.

To learn more, visit our Student Experience page!