Amber Zilinger recently joined INHS as a visiting scientific specialist in soils and disease research in the Wildlife Veterinary Epidemiology Laboratory. She received her BS in Animal Sciences with a minor in Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation from the U. of I.
Prior to joining INHS, she worked in a few different research labs: one conducting research on the development of crops to capture carbon, another studying behavioral and physiological changes that occur through the domestication of silver foxes by studying their genotypes, and lastly, one that uses trail camera data to estimate populations of various species of local wildlife in Champaign County.
Through these research experiences, she has gotten the chance to contribute to a few scientific articles as well as complete her undergraduate project on factors that influence eastern gray squirrel and fox squirrel population abundances in Champaign County.
She recently answered a few questions about her work.
Who or what drew you to study your topic of interest?
Meeting Dr. Mateus is what got me interested in wildlife diseases, and particularly chronic wasting disease (CWD). Her passion in the subject is what led me to want to pursue a position in her lab.
What are common misconceptions about your career?
When it comes to CWD, common misconceptions tend to be that this disease is not a limiting factor in the white-tailed deer population, as well as the idea that IDNR’s sharpshooting program to control CWD is causing declines in the healthy deer population.
What do you wish more people understood about science or being a scientist?
One thing I wish more people knew about being a scientist is that most people can be a scientist. It can seem intimidating, but it also can be all about getting your foot in the door and pursuing something that you’re passionate about. Additionally, it can be an extremely rewarding career.
What advice would you give to future scientists?
I would say to pursue any job or research opportunities within your field of interest. It can be a really great experience to work in different labs to get a feel for what you like, and just as importantly, what you do not like.
Amber is in 1014 Forbes and can be reached at email@example.com or by phone at 815-414-3353.