Scientific Advisory Committee

The Scientific Advisory Committee, consisting of researchers, veterinarians, and other wildlife and health-care professionals, promotes sound, ethical, scientific inquiry at the Wildlife Center of Virginia that will further conservation, veterinary medicine, rehabilitation, and education.  The committee advises WCV on research, networking opportunities, funding prospects, and possible collaboration opportunities.  

Tamara Johnstone-Yellin, M.S., Ph.D., Chair
Bridgewater College

Dr. Johnstone-Yellin is an Associate Professor of Biology at Bridgewater College in Virginia.  She completed her Master of Science at Washington State University on mule deer fawn survival in Eastern Washington and the use of Vaginal Implant Transmitters to monitor parturition in deer and then completed her doctorate at Washington State University on nutritional ecology and sex allocation in cervids.  Dr. Johnstone-Yellin spent her postdoctoral fellowship working with the Forest Ungulate Research Network, a consortium of foresters and ecologists working on forest-cervid interactions.  She also has experience working in the captive breeding recovery program for the endangered pygmy rabbit.  She teaches courses in ecology, wildlife management and human-wildlife dimensions.  Her current research with the US Forest Service assesses the effects of fenced exclosures on the nutritional carrying capacity for white-tailed deer.  She is also assessing the effects of drying and storage methods on the nutritional quality of acorn masts to inform storage and use in rehabilitation facilities.

Justin Brown, Ph.D., DVM
Pennsylvania Game Commission

Since 2014, Dr. Justin Brown has served as the wildlife veterinarian for the Pennsylvania Game Commission.  Dr. Brown received his D.V.M. from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in 2004 and earned his Ph.D. in Veterinary Pathology from the University of Georgia in 2008.  From 2008 to 2013, he worked as a wildlife disease diagnostician and research scientist at the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, which is a regional wildlife disease research and diagnostic unit based out of the University of Georgia. 


Karen Gruszynski, Ph.D., DVM
Virginia Department of Health

Dr. Gruszynski received her DVM from the University of Wisconsin in 2001. After graduation, she went on to obtain a MPH and a PhD.  Her PhD focused on West Nile virus, especially in wildlife populations.  From 2006-2009 she contracted with various agencies, including the National Center for Biomedical Research and Training and the National Wildlife Health Center.  In 2009, she joined the Virginia Department of Health at the veterinary epidemiologist.  In her current role, Dr. Grusynski works on zoonotic diseases such as rabies and avian influenza.  Additionally, she is proficient in GIS, statistics, and epidemiology and has worked with multiple wildlife species in various roles.


Sanford Feldman, DVM, Ph.D., DACLAM
University of Virginia

Dr. Feldman is a Professor and the director of the Center for Comparative Medicine at the University of Virginia since 1997.  He was awarded his DVM (summa cum laude, 1984) and Ph.D. (Biophysics and Neurosciences, 1985) from Michigan State University.  He is a Diplomat of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (Foster Award Winner, 1993) and has more than fifty publications in peer-reviewed journals on topics that include the neurosciences, diagnostic molecular microbiology, experimental surgery, and gene therapy using viral vectors.  Dr. Feldman’s work history includes private veterinary practice; Commander in the Public Health Service at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at the NIH; and Director of Molecular Diagnostics at Anmed/Biosafe, Inc. before taking his current position at UVA.


Megan Kirchgessner, Ph.D., DVM
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

Dr. Kirchgessner is the State Wildlife Veterinarian for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.  She obtained her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine at the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine in 2005 and has practiced as a wildlife rehabilitation, small-animal emergency, and exotic animal veterinarian.  Dr. Kirchgessner obtained her Ph.D. at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry in 2012, where her research focused on the transmission of bovine viral diarrhea virus and Coxeilla burnetii between white-tailed deer and domestic livestock.  As the Virginia State Wildlife Veterinarian, Dr. Kirchgessner has worked on a wide variety of wildlife health-related issues, including chronic wasting disease surveillance, establishment of baseline health data in a restored elk population, fish health management at state trout hatcheries, and development of humane wildlife handling and euthanasia protocols. 


Julia Murphy, DVM
Virginia Department of Health

Dr. Murphy received her DVM from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (VMRCVM) in 1992.  After three years in large-animal private practice, she returned to VMRCVM to pursue a residency in production medicine, earning an MS in 1998.  Dr. Murphy became board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Preventative Medicine in 1999 and began working for the Virginia Department of Health in 2002 where she currently serves as the state public health veterinarian.


Cyndi Perry, M.S.
US Fish and Wildlife Service, retired

Ms. Perry spent nearly three decades in research, field, and leadership positions with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS).    She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from The College of Natural Resources, Michigan State University; as well as Master of Science degrees in Biology from Eastern Michigan University; and Zoology from the University of Maine.    Ms. Perry spent a third of her career providing leadership in the conservation of Migratory Birds and their habitats. From headquarters she led the national effort to conserve shore-, water-, and land birds by increasing financial resources and human capital in headquarters and the field; streamlining Migratory Bird Permit regulations; and in close concert with those seeking permits revised the education, rehabilitation, falconry, and a number of other MB permits for the public and institutions. More recently, as Division Chief of the Bird Habitat Conservation program, she emphasized developing new partnerships, growing program funding from non-traditional areas, cultivating innovative grant practices for international grantees, and using human dimension research in strategic planning with North American partners.     She spent over seven years guiding changes in the international grants and technical assistance programs in the FWS, where she led efforts to revamp how international grants are administered, created reasonable policies for overseas grantees, developed partners and maintained those relationships in foreign countries, as well as strategic planning. These efforts were critical to the revival and success of the Multinational Species Funds (e.g. African Elephant Conservation Fund, Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Fund, Great Apes Conservation Fund, etc.).     Ms. Perry’s early career was spent researching anthropogenic effects on wildlife in the Great Lakes & New England, before moving into field studies of contaminant sites in New England and then to FWS headquarters in northern Virginia.     Her philosophy is that effective conservation of our amazing wildlife will be most successful when we engage people, stimulate their interest, and cultivate new ways to share our world.  

Bryan Watts
Center for Conservation Biology


Terry Woodworth, Ph.D.
SHINE Innovations

Dr. Woodworth has served as Chief Scientist for SHINE Innovations and its predecessor, SHINE Systems & Technologies, in Charlottesville, Virginia since 2008. Dr. Woodworth brings 30 years of experience in the public and private sector supporting regional innovation and economic development in Virginia. Most recently, Dr. Woodworth led SHINE’s five-year partnership with the Virginia SBDC Network to develop and execute their Innovation Commercialization Assistance Program (ICAP), assisting Virginia entrepreneurs and small businesses with market-driven transformation of their ideas into products and services.   Prior to joining SHINE, Dr. Woodworth served over 20 years in various roles with Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology, where he supported startup companies commercializing innovations across a range of technology areas.    Dr. Woodworth earned his B.S. in Biology from Old Dominion University, his Ph.D. in Microbiology & Immunology from the MCV campus of Virginia Commonwealth University, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Microbiology and Molecular Biology at the University of California, Irvine.