Student Perspectives: Rachel Turner

Date posted: April 2, 2012

In this audio slideshow, CALS senior and aspiring conservation veterinarian Rachel Turner discusses her published research on equine colic as well as an internship that took her to Sri Lanka to work with elephants.

“I had one of those … school books where every year you fill in the information about yourself, and since … kindergarten, I would write in “what you want to be when you grow up” veterinarian – before I even knew how to spell it.

“My name is Rachel Turner, and I am a senior majoring in animal science, and I’m from San Jose, California. My career goal is to be a conservation veterinarian.

“I think a big aspect of conservation medicine is research, because there’s just so much that we don’t know about wildlife. And there’s so much we don’t know about how they reproduce and how they behave and what they eat and what their habitat is like and things like that. And all that information really, really impacts how we are able to keep them in captivity and how comfortable we are able to make them, and then how we are able to bring back their species and rehabilitate them and reintroduce them into the wild.

“My research on equine colic was actually more of a data study, and I was working with Dr. Matt Gerard out at the N.C. State Vet School. And what we were doing was going through the records of surgeries – horses that had come to N.C. State for gastrointestinal, colic-related surgery. We wanted to figure out for the horses that had failure in those stitches – so in those sutures, they had either gotten an infection that led to drainage or seepage, or some sort of issue with that incision. We wanted to figure out if there are specific risk factors, so if there are specific things we could change in surgical procedures or in recovery procedures that could prevent that from happening.

“My internship in Sri Lanka was with the Millennium Elephant Foundation. They do rehabilitation with injured elephants in the area. They have a mobile vet clinic that goes out into the community. They also have four elephants that they use for education purposes. So these are healthy elephants, and then they have tourists that come in and they can interact with the elephants in a lot of different capacities – they can ride them or they can feed them — and it kind of gives them an idea of what conscientious interaction with elephants is like.”

Rachel Turner and Dr. Matt Gerard

Becky Kirkland photo

CALS animal science major Rachel Turner conducted equine colic research with Dr. Matt Gerard of N.C. State University's College of Veterinary Medicine.

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