Member Spotlight
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This special feature showcases AAV's most valuable asset--our members--by highlighting our diverse backgrounds, professional activities, experience, and geographic locations.

 

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November 2019: Dr. Lara Backus

Posted By Administration, Thursday, November 14, 2019

AAV Member Since: 

2013

Most memorable AAV experience or contribution

My most memorable experience was when I went to the AAV conference for the first time during veterinary school. This was the first time that I had been surrounded by other people who were passionate about avian and exotic medicine and I was blown away by all of the knowledge that was being shared. This was also the moment that convinced me that I wanted to pursue a career in avian and exotic medicine.

What is your favorite avian species and why?

My favorite avian species would have to be a cockatiel, even though they're one of the most common birds we see. I just think they have so much personality that even when they're being sassy in the exam room I can't help but find them cute.

Best benefits of AAV membership?

For me, the best part of AAV membership is the access to a wide variety of avian medicine knowledge, either via contacts with colleagues or the research posted in the Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery. I feel like one of the more interesting parts of avian and exotic medicine is how much we all still have to learn about our patients and each new bit of knowledge we're able to obtain is invaluable.

If you had not chosen your present career, what would you be doing?

If I hadn't chosen veterinary medicine I probably would have done something related to music, most likely music education.


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October 2019: Dr. Seth Oster

Posted By Administration, Thursday, October 17, 2019

AAV Member Since: 

2010

What was the first bird job you ever had?

Prior to going to college I never had a chance to work with birds. After starting college and trying a few different jobs trying to build my resume for vet school, I found a job at the Southeastern Raptor Center working in their education collection. This was a great opportunity, as not only did I get to work with great birds, but I got to teach the public about them and their value in our ecosystems.

What is your favorite avian species and why?

I love black vultures. They are incredibly intelligent birds. In a lot of ways they have very similar behaviors to many of our companion birds. I have had the chance to work with several educational black vultures and they are as nice as any psittacine I have met. Due to their intelligence, I have seen them become very crafty trying to outsmart their trainers, and often times we have had to implement foraging programs similar to what I would recommend for a companion bird. Vultures get a bad perception of being messy and lazy. Take some time to meet one of these birds if you have an educational program near you.

What was the last interesting avian medical or surgical issue you dealt with in your work?

We recently saw a falconer whose Harris hawk had suffered a very distal fracture of the right tarsometatarsus. We had a very limited amount of bone to work with, but were able to place a type II external fixator on the leg. Within 3 hours of recovery, the patient was weight bearing on the leg and able to grasp with the foot. I am always amazed at how quickly these patients can recover from something that would seem so debilitating to us.

Best benefits of AAV membership?

The chance to meet and interact with fellow bird nerds has been amazing. When I came through vet school, Auburn only had a raptor program. I had no chance to get any exposure to companion birds through my school work. Attending AAV's conference back when it was in Seattle, I had the chance to meet some clinicians that later would allow me to come visit their clinic while I was in my senior year. This was a chance to expand my knowledge beyond what I could achieve at my school. Since graduating, networking with fellow members has continued to provide me with opportunities to learn and grow as an avian veterinarian.

What was your favorite class or activity in vet school/vet tech school/college?

While in undergraduate and vet school, I worked in a raptor rehabilitation center. This was by far my favorite activity during school. It kept me focused on what I was working towards and let me see the application of my classes. Plus it was nice to get outside and do some work rather than sitting inside studying.


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September 2019: Shamsul Alam Roky

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, September 18, 2019

AAV Member Since: 

2017

Most memorable AAV experience or contribution

Undoubtedly, when I got the 2018 AAV Student Externship Scholarship which is the most memorable moment in my life. This helped me to open a path to enrich myself through an externship in an aviary. I can still remember those memorable days.

What is your favorite avian species and why?

Recently, Emu bird does enter into my favorite list. They are so friendly and I did examined them during my internship in Rangpur Zoo, Bangladesh, and I observed them very closely and liked their behavior to come close to the people and show their intimacy with the zoo-keeper.

What was the last interesting avian medical or surgical issue you dealt with in your work?

The most recent avian case I handled was about pump handled breathing in a short faced pigeon. As we have seen several cases about pump handled respiration in layer birds, but for me it's the first time where I saw this condition in a pigeon.

Best benefits of AAV membership?

It's a great opportunity to learn more about the avian species and AAV provides scholarships for the students which helps us a lot to expand our knowledge through externship. Together with many professionals, AAV creates a forum where we can share our thoughts and discuss about any query related to the avian medicine.

If you had not chosen your present career, what would you be doing?

I think, i'd become a biologist.

What was your favorite class or activity in vet school/vet tech school/college?

During my class, I liked the presentation session very much. At first, we had to select a specific topic about birds, their behavior, management, diseases and treatment and then gave our presentation in front of the whole class separately. This helped to build ourselves strongly and gave us the courage. And also it is a very easy way to learn the latest information through ourselves.


AAV Members: We invite you to submit your member spotlight to be featured in this section of our AAV NewsLink. Don't be shy! Submit your spotlight questionnaire today!

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August 2019: Valérie St-Pierre

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 13, 2019

AAV Member Since: 

2019

What was the first bird job you ever had?

After my first year of vet school, I worked at ''Chouette à voir!'', which is a rehabilitation center for birds of prey, and I also worked at the Birds of Prey Clinic after my second year.

What is your favorite avian species and why?

I would have to say the peregrine falcon, because we trained three of them at ''Chouette à voir!'' to hunt lures in front of visitors and I never stopped admiring their flight skills.

What was the last interesting avian medical or surgical issue you dealt with in your work?

Last summer, we had a lot of West Nile virus cases at the birds of prey clinic. The birds arrived in really poor shape and got better with only supportive care for a couple of weeks. Following their evolution from this condition was really impressive!

If you had not chosen your present career, what would you be doing?

I would have been a physiotherapist. I practiced figure skating for 15 years and competed for 10 years. I injured myself three times and always enjoyed my weekly visits to the physiotherapist office.

What was your favorite class or activity in vet school/vet tech school/college?

I recently had a couple of lectures with Dr. Isabelle Langlois on the essentials on companion bird medicine and they were my favorite lectures since I started vet school!


AAV Members: We invite you to submit your member spotlight to be featured in this section of our AAV NewsLink. Don't be shy! Submit your spotlight questionnaire today!

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July 2019: Thalita Reis

Posted By Administration, Monday, July 15, 2019

AAV Member Since: 

2015

What was the first bird job you ever had?

It was at a wildlife recovery center in 2007.

What is your favorite avian species and why?

I love all birds, but I have a passion for the cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus).

Best benefits of AAV membership?

Meet other veterinarian colleagues in love with birds, and get more knowledge about birds. 

What was your favorite class or activity in vet school/vet tech school/college?

Surgery class

  


AAV Members: We invite you to submit your member spotlight to be featured in this section of our AAV NewsLink. Don't be shy! Submit your spotlight questionnaire today!

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June 2019: Robert Mraz

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, June 12, 2019

AAV Member Since: 

2018

What was the first bird job you ever had?

Zoo Aviculturist

Most memorable AAV experience or contribution

University of Sydney AAV Student Chapter President

What is your favorite avian species and why?

Rallus obsoletus. I've worked with these birds as part of a Species Survival Plan in all aspects including hand rearing and in-the-field population estimates. The Rallus genus is one of the most widespread genera in the world and it has been an utmost pleasure to work with this species of rallid.

Best benefits of AAV membership?

The AAV provides excellent opportunities for professional development and networking by making available information and training for all of those in the avian healthcare field to advance their knowledge in pertinent bird news, education, and medical advances. 

What was your favorite class or activity in vet school/vet tech school/college?

Vet school- epidemiology

Describe an anecdote that would be of interest to your colleagues

I have been bitten by a bald eagle and a rainbow lorikeet. I can confirm that lorikeets are more vicious.

Do you have a favorite tip or trick for clinical avian practice that you can share with AAV members?

Successful avian wildlife management takes a collaborative effort from avian veterinarians, wildlife rescuers and carers, and supportive veterinary and rehabilitation staff. We all have particular skill sets and experience that augment one another and it is vitally important that we all work together toward a common goal: a better tomorrow for all wild bird species at home and around the world.


AAV Members: We invite you to submit your member spotlight to be featured in this section of our AAV NewsLink. Don't be shy! Submit your spotlight questionnaire today!

 Spotlight Questionnaire


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May 2019: Ciro Cococcetta, DVM

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, May 15, 2019

AAV Member Since: 

2018

What was the first bird job you ever had?

Clinica per Animali Esotici, Rome, Italy

What is your favorite avian species and why?

My favorite avian species are raptors. I have loved them since I was very young, actually soon after the Dinosaur period. Now my interest in them has changed, of course, and I truly believe that all raptor species are extremely important for the environment as they are top predator, and they can bioaccumulate and show the consequence of pollution and poison that are present in the environment all around the world.

What was the last interesting avian medical or surgical issue you dealt with in your work?

We are dealing with a left ventricular dilatation in a cocktail. We are now conducting all the exams that we can according to the owner. Since now it seems a ventricular dilatation consequent to myocarditis.

Best benefits of AAV membership?

Make a group of people that like and work on the same subject. The possibility to speak and learn different techniques, protocols, and ways to solve the problem. The Journal it's also a great tool!!

If you had not chosen your present career, what would you be doing?

Naturalist biologist

What was your favorite class or activity in vet school/vet tech school/college?

Clinical medicine and pathological anatomy

Describe an anecdote that would be of interest to your colleagues

"I appear to be wiser than he, because I do not fancy I know what I do not." Cit. Socrates

Do you have a favorite tip or trick for clinical avian practice that you can share with AAV members?

Always check twice and review all the possible differential diagnosis, because if unprovable there is still one possibility.


AAV Members: We invite you to submit your member spotlight to be featured in this section of our AAV NewsLink. Don't be shy! Submit your spotlight questionnaire today!

 Spotlight Questionnaire

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April 2019: Lisa Walters-Felloney

Posted By Admin, Wednesday, April 3, 2019

AAV Member Since: 

2010

What was the first bird job you ever had?

I only worked with cats and dogs until I started working at Windcrest Animal Hospital almost 10 years ago. They needed an exotic technician. I was anxious to learn these new skills. I had some exposure to parrots through friends. But I found out that birds are my passion.

Most memorable AAV experience or contribution

I love attending the AAV annual conferences. It is wonderful to meet and share experiences, tips and tricks with others that share my passion.

What is your favorite avian species and why?

I love Amazons. I find them to be highly intelligent and entertaining. Windcrest has a Mealy Amazon as a hospital pet. She and I bonded shortly after I started working there. It has been love ever since.

Best benefits of AAV membership?

The ability to share ideas with others that love birds. The ability to communicate through Facebook and get relevant information on the AAV website. Also some of the lasting friendships I have made.

If you had not chosen your present career, what would you be doing?

I always wanted to be a veterinarian. But since I wasn't financially able to pursue that career, a licensed technician is the next best thing.

Describe an anecdote that would be of interest to your colleagues

I help one of our vets teach an exotic class for a local technical school that has an accredited Vet Tech program. One of my favorite classes to teach is Exotic Radiology. During the lab portion, I teach the students to take radiographs of various exotics. One of the most memorable moments is when we took rads of a hen. The students were excited to see that she had an egg in her coelom. But after she awoke from anesthesia, she laid the egg on the x-ray table. I don't think the students will ever forget that.

 


AAV Members: We invite you to submit your member spotlight to be featured in this section of our AAV NewsLink. Don't be shy! Submit your spotlight questionnaire today!

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March 2019: Jean-Philippe Frigon

Posted By Administration, Thursday, March 7, 2019

AAV Member Since: 

2019

What was the first bird job you ever had?

During my summer right after my first year in vet school I worked at Chouette à voir!, a birds of prey rehabilitation center in St-Jude managed by the UQROP (Union québécoise de réhabilitation des oiseaux de proie) which is affiliated with the Birds of Prey Clinic of our university.

What is your favorite avian species and why?

I am in awe with the Great Horned Owl because of one particular bird from my summer at Chouette à voir!. We received an owlet that could not go back into the wild. We made the decision to train him with other birds, which were in the same situation as he was, so that he could become an ambassador! I saw him grow from a small fluffy feather ball that could fit in the palm of my hand to a 1.5kg adult bird who made his first flight with me!

If you had not chosen your present career, what would you be doing?

If I did not embark myself in the journey that is vet school, I would have taken the path of human medicine as a cardiologist! I finally made up my mind after a short observation internship at the Biodôme of Montreal, in which I saw the thrill of dealing with more than one species!

What was your favorite class or activity in vet school/vet tech school/college?

Organizing and presenting the ''Bird of Prey: Emergency techniques'' wetlab for the students from across Canada during the Student Canadian Veterinary Medicine Association (SCVMA) Symposium with the help of Dr. Guy Fitzgerald.


AAV Members: We invite you to submit your member spotlight to be featured in this section of our AAV NewsLink. Don't be shy! Submit your spotlight questionnaire today!

 Spotlight Questionnaire

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Member Spotlight: New 2019 Committee Co-chairs (Part 2)

Posted By Liz Smith, Wednesday, February 13, 2019

New Aviculture Chair

Dr. Andrea Winkel-Blair, DVM, MPH

 

Andrea Winkel-Blair, DVM, MPH, is a graduate of Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI, where she completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology with a concentration in zoo and aquarium sciences. She then went on to earn her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Michigan State University in 2009. She earned her Masters in Public Health from University of Minnesota in 2010. She went on to join the US Army Veterinary Corps in 2009 where she was an active duty captain. After 4.5 years she decided it was time for a change and left the Army for private practice. Dr. Blair was in private practice for about 1 year before she decided that she wanted to go back for a 3-year residency in avian medicine at Texas A&M University. She currently is at MedVet Hilliard in Columbus, OH where she has been part of the medical team since 2018. She is passionate about Avian & Exotic Medicine and her special interests include exotic behavior medicine, avian surgery, avian reproductive medicine, raptor medicine, and reptile medicine and surgery. Dr. Blair is also excited about being elected as the incoming Chair of the Association of Avian Veterinarians Aviculture Committee. She is an active member in Association of Avian Veterinarians, Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians, Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians, American Veterinary Medical Association, and Ohio Veterinary Medical Association.

 

New Conservation Committee Co-chairs (joining current co-chair Dr. Jesse Fallon)

Dr. Nikki Becich, DVM

Dr. Nikki Becich, member of the AAV since 2014, is a 2018 graduate of Tufts Veterinary School. She is currently working with exotic companion and small animals at Cheat Lake Animal Hospital in West Virginia. Dr. Becich also works with the Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia, a non-profit organization started by Katie and Dr. Jesse Fallon which aims to treat and rehabilitate wild birds, as well as educating the community in the importance of local species conservation. She has worked as an international field associate for programs in Ecuador for the National Aviary since 2013. This position has allowed her to work against wildlife trafficking in South America, and work extensively in inter-situ Andean Condor conservation efforts between North American and Ecuadorean institutions.  


In January and February, Dr. Becich has been in Ecuador working with Bioparque Amaru Zoo to train veterinarians in avian medicine basics. Her time in Ecuador also helps the National Aviary better communicate with the organizations working in Ecuadorean Andean Condor conservation. The hope is that in the future, Amaru will be a leading in-situ site for Andean Condor breeding programs, and with support of the National Aviary gain accreditation with the Associacion Latinoamericana de Parques, Zoologicos, y Acuarios (ALPZA, The Latin America Zoo, Park, and Aquarium Association). The National Aviary and Amaru support the Fundacion Condor Andino and the Neotropical Peregrine Fund, who are leading Andean Condor research in the field.  She hopes to continue conservation work with wildlife centers and zoos for all her career, and appreciates the opportunities and connections offered by working with the Association of Avian Veterinarians.

New Research Committee Chair

Dr. Ashley Zehnder, DVM, PhD, DABVP (Avian Practice)
Ashley Zehnder graduated from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in 2005, completed a small animal medicine and surgery internship at the Animal Medical Center in New York City in 2006 and a 3-year residency in Companion Avian and Pet Exotic Medicine at the University of California-Davis, becoming boarded in Avian Medicine in 2009. She completed her Cancer Biology PhD in the Khavari Lab at Stanford in 2016, working on novel therapeutic strategies to target altered signaling pathways in epithelial cancers. Since beginning her research training at Stanford, she pursued interests in cancer biology as well as comparative medicine by maintaining active research interests in both fields. She spearheaded the Zoobiquity Research Symposia in 2014, 2016 and 2018 which brought together veterinarians and human medical researchers to discuss research efforts in infectious diseases, cancer as well as novel animal models of disease. 

More recently, she co-founded a research alliance to bring together medical professionals to pursue research interests relating to cancer in non-domestic species, shedding light on the biology of tumors in these potentially valuable animal models (www.escra.org). Her post-doctoral research focused on building resources and methods to improve sharing of animal clinical data across the US as well as developing a tumor database focused on non-domestic species, thereby helping to identify potential novel models of cancer for human and animal research.  Currently she is the co-founder of Fauna Bio, a drug discovery company built on comparative mammalian genomics that was launched from her post-doc lab at Stanford.

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