20 Years of Turtle Rescue Team

Treating injured turtles has a long history at the NCSU CVM, going back to the earliest days of the college.  Dr. John Cullen, professor of pathology was likely the earliest proponent of the practice, seeing injured turtles clinicially when members of the public would find them and bring them to the newly built veterinary college.  When Dr. Michael Stoskopf joined the faculty in 1989, bringing expertise in shell repair, he and Dr. Cullen began to work collaboratively on the cases, and developed the now widely accepted open management of shell wounds at Dr. Cullen’s suggestion. 

NCSU bulletin with Dr. Lewbart

When Dr. Greg Lewbart came to the College of Veterinary Medicine in 1993, and as the newest clinician at the college with an interest in poikiolotherms, he quickly joined in  treating the ten or so sick and injured wild turtles people would bring to the college each year.  By 1994 the turtle caseload had doubled, just by word of mouth letting people know there was a place where injured turtles could be treated.  In 1995 the caseload continued to increase and Dr. Lewbart became the “go to” person as administrative and research duties limited the availability of Dr. Cullen and Dr. Stoskopf.  It was also clear that with the rising caseload there was an opportunity for a more coordinated student involvement with the cases, to help develop not only their clinical and case management skills.  With the help of a donation from local wildlife rehabilitator Linda Henis, North Carolina State University’s Turtle Rescue Team was born in 1996.

TRT team shot

A few members of the Turtle Team pose with Dr. Lewbart and some patients.

Now, entering its 20th year, Turtle Rescue Team is a thriving and vital part of the NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine. Supported by their faculty mentors and the technical staff of the college, the day to day operations of the Turtle Team, as it is more commonly referred to, are run entirely by students. DVM program students are the heart of the Turtle Team, and serve as the presidents, shift captains and other key positions, managing the medical and surgical cases from admission to discharge. 

The involved veterinary students build case management skills, and the officers gain experience in volunteer coordination and clinic management. A select few graduate, and undergraduate students also contribute to turtle team success, gaining valuable opportunities for hands-on reptile  experience.  Many staff and faculty also help by fostering turtles needing long term care before release.

TRT patients

Box turtles lined up for daily treatments.

In 2015, the Turtle Rescue Team expects to see over 300 cases. The steady stream of patients has provided opportunities for publication of case studies, development of novel treatment protocols for challenging conditions, and other research into the best approaches for managing turtle trauma or understanding turtle physiology.

Turtle x-ray

Radiographs of a female turtle with many eggs.

The longevity of the program has generated a large volume of data that has and will continue to prove valuable to further understanding the health & ecology of North Carolina’s wild turtle populations. The Turtle Team’s community outreach and education efforts are equally valuable.  By including each turtle’s rescuer in the rehabilitation and release process, the Turtle Team has helped to educate the triangle public about the value and needs of our wild turtles.

Turtle release

A snapping turtle returns to the wild after his stay with the Turtle Team.


The coordination, dedication, and enthusiasm of North Carolina State University’s veterinary students has kept Dr. Lewbart’s vision for a wildlife treatment and rehabilitation program running smoothly for 20 years, and here’s to many more!

the TRT skittles brood

NCSU CVM Research Forum Success

EMC students and house officers were well in evidence at the 2015 CVM Research Forum held this past Friday, September 18th, 2015.  The key note speaker for the largest research forum in recent history was Dr. Robin Warren, Nobel Laureate for his work on the importance of Helicobacter in gastrointestinal disease.  His talk to an overflow audience was well received by the DVM, Graduate Students, House Officers and Faculty able to attend. The day of science gave the opportunity for budding scientists at all stages of their career to gain experience presenting in a large forum.

Niemuth presents 2015crpd sm

Dr. Jennifer Niemuth presents new techniques for sea turtle metabolomics (photo Mary Doerr)

Dr. Brianne Phillips, the senior resident in zoological medicine made the podium, when her presentation “POPULATION PHARMACOKINETICS OF ENROFLOXACIN AND ITS METABOLITE CIPROFLOXACIN IN THE GREEN SEA URCHIN (STRONGYLOCENTROTUS DROEBACHIENSIS) FOLLOWING INTRACOELOMIC AND IMMERSION ADMINISTRATION” won second place in the hotly contested oral presentation division which featured 45 scientific presentations.

Phillips answers question crp thumb

Dr. Brianne Phillips starts her presentation on sea urching pharmacokinetics (photo Mary Doerr)

Dr. Lori Westmoreland anchored the EMC presence in the largest poster session ever at the CVM Research Forum which boasted 49 research posters.

Westmoreland poster w curtin and stevens crp sm

Dr. Lori Westmoreland explains her poster to founding dean Terry Curtin (right) and Emeritus Clinical Pathology Professor Jerry Stevens (photo Mary Doerr)

 

EMC participants included

Presentations:

DVM Students

Jarred, JoAnna Jarred, speaking on “IDENTIFICATION OF TWO NOVEL MYCOPLASMA SPEICES IN AN EASTERN BOX TURTLE (TERRAPENE CAROLINA CAROLINA) AND YELLOW-BELLIED SLIDER (TRACHEMYS SCRIPTA SCRIPTA)”

Gerlach, Jamie Gerlach, speaking on “THE ROLE OF TRIM9 IN MACROPHAGE MIGRATION IN DEVELOPING ZEBRAFISH (DANIO RERIO) IN RESPONSE TO A BACTERIAL AGONIST”

Shaina Stewart speaking on “ASSESSMENT OF ZEBRAFISH AS XENOGRAPH MODELS OF CANINE CANCER”

Graduate Students

Stasia Bembenek-Bailey speaking on “1H-NMR METABOLOMICS OF HATCHLING LOGGERHEAD SEA TURTLE (CARETTA CARETTA) WHOLE BLOOD AND SKELETAL MUSCLE AFTER CRUDE OIL EXPOSURE”

Amanda Kortum speaking on “FUNCTIONAL EVALUATION OF ANTIBACTERIAL PEPTIDES EXPRESSED BY ZEBRAFISH”

Jennifer Niemuth speaking on “A NOVEL EXTRACTION METHOD FOR THE PREPARATION OF HEPARINIZED CHICKEN (GALLUS GALLUS DOMESTICUS) AND HORSE (EQUUS CABALLUS) WHOLE BLOOD FOR H-NMR METABOLOMICS USING DRABKIN’S REAGENT)”

House Officers

Cannizzo, Sarah Cannizzo speaking on “TENSILE FAILURE LOAD IN TWO MONOFILAMENT ABSORBABLE SUTURES: A COMPARISON OF THREE INCUBATION TEMPERATURES OVER TIME”

Brianne Phillips speaking on “POPULATION PHARMACOKINETICS OF ENROFLOXACIN AND ITS METABOLITE CIPROFLOXACIN IN THE GREEN SEA URCHIN (STRONGYLOCENTROTUS DROEBACHIENSIS) FOLLOWING INTRACOELOMIC AND IMMERSION ADMINISTRATION”

Morika Williams speaking on “ORAL TRANSMUCOSAL DETOMIDINE GEL IN NEW ZEALAND WHITE RABBITS (ORYCTOLAGUS CUNICULUS)”

Posters

DVM Students

Leland Garrett – PARTITIONING OF DRUGS AND CHEMICALS DURING TWO CHEESE MAKING PROCESSES

Jamie Gerlach – FUNCTIONAL EVALUATION OF ANTIBACTERIAL PEPTIDES EXPRESSED BY ZEBRAFISH

Margaret Hull – INDUCING METAMORPHOSIS IN THE BUDGETT’S FROG (LEPIDOBATRACHUS LAEVIS), A NEW AMPHIBIAN MODEL WITH CANNIBALISTIC TADPOLES

Adeline Noger – MICROSCOPIC AND MOLECULAR IDENTIFICATION AND SPECIATION OF LUNGWORM INFECTIONS IN CATS IN NORTH CAROLINA

Graduate Students

Dustin Wcisel – FUNCTIONAL AND GENOMIC CHARACTERIZATION OF NOVEL IMMUNOGLOBULIN-LIKE TRANSCRIPTS IN ZEBRAFISH

Mandy Womble – PITX2C MEDIATES ASYMMETRICAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE HEPATOBILIARY SYSTEM

House Officers

Lori Westmoreland –  NONTARGETED METABOLOMIC INVESTIGATION OF CAPTIVE HARD (ACROPORA SP.) AND SOFT (LOBOPHYTUM SP.) CORAL IN GOOD AND COMPROMISED WATER CONDITIONS USING 1H-NMR SPECTROSCOPY