Meet the Aquatic, Amphibian, and Reptile Pathology team.
Meet the Team
I was born and raised in rural southern New Jersey, and I have always had an active interest in wildlife, and in particular, in amphibians and reptiles. I completed my undergraduate degree at Loyola University Chicago, and started studying veterinary medicine at Cornell University in the fall of 2003. During the summer of 2004, I participated in the Leadership Program for Veterinary Students at Cornell University. After this first official exposure to laboratory research, I decided that I wanted to couple infectious disease research with my veterinary training, and I was accepted into the combined DVM/PhD program at Cornell the following spring. I completed my PhD studying virus-receptor interactions and pathogenicity determinants of feline caliciviruses in the summer of 2009, and completed my DVM in 2010.
It became very clear to me while completing my DVM and PhD that I wanted to apply my training in molecular virology/infectious diseases and veterinary medicine to increase the understanding of diseases of reptiles and amphibians. And to better be able to recognize and diagnose reptile and amphibian disease, I elected to pursue a residency in anatomic pathology. I completed the first two years of my anatomic pathology residency at Cornell, and my final residency year with the Wildlife Conservation Society at the Bronx Zoo. I became a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists in 2013. I stayed on at the Wildlife Conservation Society for an additional year as a Molecular Pathology fellow to gain additional experience in molecular diagnostic test development. I returned to Cornell in 2014 for a postdoctoral fellowship in Wildlife Pathology before accepting a position with the Zoo Pathology Program at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. In 2017, I was offered an incredible and unexpected opportunity to help build and establish the Aquatic, Amphibian, and Reptile Pathology Program at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Florida.
My training has afforded me some incredible research and diagnostic opportunities, both in the lab and in the field. And every day I have the chance to see incredible case material. While amphibians and reptiles may not immediately come to mind when you think of aquatics, they are an integral part of most aquatic ecosystems. My hope is to continue to improve the state of disease detection, diagnosis, and treatment in reptiles and amphibians – and to share some of my enthusiasm regarding the pathology and diseases of herpetofauna with others who share a similar interest.
When not working, I like to spend time with my family, enjoying nature, and practicing photography.
I received my DVM from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich, Germany, after which I completed a small animal rotating internship at the Small Animal Referral Clinical Piding, Germany. I completed a clinical pathology residency and clinical instructorship at the University of Florida and received a Dr.Med.Vet. from the Vetsuisse Faculty of the University of Berne, Switzerland. I am board certified in veterinary clinical pathology and have specialized in non-domestic species clinical pathology for fifteen years. My primary area of interest is clinical pathology of exotic species, especially aquatics, and its application to wildlife conservation. In addition to diagnostic service and teaching, I am strongly interested in improving clinical diagnostics and understanding pathophysiology in aquatic and other non-domestic species.
Jessy Castellanos Gell, PhD
- PhD in population genetics; Reef fish population connectivity, University of Paris XI, France, 2012
- Master in Marine Biology. Center for Marine Research, University of Havana, Cuba, 2008
- Bachelor of Science, Biology, University of Havana, Cuba, 2005
My area of expertise includes the fields of molecular ecology, fisheries and conservation genetics, and I am particularly interested in the genetic connectivity of marine organisms. I developed a project to analyze the population genetic structure of three reef fish species from five locations around the island of Cuba, and the correlations between their reproductive traits and the geographic features of the archipelago. I have also studied the genetic structure and historic demographic parameters of populations of pink shrimp (F. notialis), seahorse (H. reidi and H. erectus) and stony coral (O. faveolata).
I have recently collaborated in the study of Cuban catch and release flats fishery and sport fishery of bonefish (Albula spp) and tarpon (M. atlanticus). Our main goals were the identification of the bonefish species composition for the fishery and the estimation of population parameters (such as historic and contemporary population sizes) and genetic diversity to determine population status and detect declining trends in both species.
Finally, throughout my research I have been dedicated to the ongoing study of the genetic diversity of endangered species like the Cuban gar (A. tristoechus) and the Antillean manatee (T. m. manatus), to support the management of their wild populations.