PennVet | Hooked on Birds
New Bolton Center Kennett Square, PA
Emergencies & Appointments:
Ryan Hospital Philadelphia, PA

Hooked on Birds

By: Sacha Adorno Published: Sep 26, 2018
Linnea Tracy, V’19, observes chickens in Dr. David Levine’s backyard flock. She hopes to use her Penn Vet education to shape public policy and positively influence food security.
Linnea Tracy, V’19, observes chickens in Dr. David Levine’s backyard flock. She hopes to use her Penn Vet education to shape
public policy and positively influence food security.

Linnea Tracy, V'19, decided on a career in veterinary medicine while volunteering with a local animal shelter as a teen and during college summer breaks. This shelter experience and an introduction to epidemiology in undergraduate school sparked Tracy’s plan to focus on population and global health.

Tracy also contacted Dr. Sherrill Davison, Associate Professor, Avian Medicine and Pathology, at New Bolton Center, about working in Davison’s avian lab. “I was looking for a way to incorporate population health and veterinary medicine in a public health domain,” said Tracy.

Over the summer of 2016, Tracy worked with poultry and helped Davison on a retrospective study of bald eagle mortality. “Before this, I had only ever interacted with parakeets,” said Tracy, who was “hooked on birds” after working in Davison’s lab.

Linnea Tracy, V’19, holds eggs from Dr. David Levine’s backyard flock.

For the fourth-year student, avian medicine is the perfect confluence of research, clinical care, and public health, and it’s a largely unexplored science. Relative to mammals, little is known about birds. “Most research is in mammalian species, but birds are very important to us economically, culturally, and personally,” she said.

To help change that, Tracy is currently contributing to studies out of the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences on how to improve the lives of egg-laying chickens. As the egg industry’s approach to egg production transitions from caged to cage-free, the number of hens with keel bone damage is increasing. The research is exploring how to more accurately assess and prevent keel damage in ways that are less invasive for the animal and more sustainable for the farmer.

When she graduates, Tracy plans to pursue a residency in aviation medicine and hopes to eventually work for a state or the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Avian health touches many lives,” she said. “We can impact thousands of birds a day with good medicine. At the same time, we can help owners maintain an income, support a state’s agricultural industry, and promote food and economic security. This is a huge field, and it’s only going to get more important as global food demands grow.”

Training New Generations…Empowering Skilled, Compassionate Vets

The Power of Penn Vet Campaign will ramp up access and opportunity for tomorrow’s veterinarians. With philanthropic support, we will:

Attract the Brightest Students
Penn Vet seeks to increase financial awards to continue to attract bright, curious, and engaged students.

Alleviate Mounting Student Debt
Veterinary students graduate with the highest debt-to-income ratio of any health care profession. Philanthropy has an important role in making outstanding veterinary education more financially accessible.

Diversify the Profession
We have an obligation to train a more diverse student body. Our definition of diversity must encompass traditional measures like ethnicity, geography, gender, and socioeconomic background. And it must also include broader career paths through our established VMD-PhD program and current and proposed dual degree programs that combine veterinary medicine with public health, business, law, and more.

Strengthen the Profession
We train a different kind of veterinarian, one who often pursues a nontraditional career path. Our graduates are clinician-scientists, an in-demand pairing of talents essential to speeding discoveries and and facilitating translational medicine.