Dr. Teresa J. Sylvina
As a child Teresa chased bats for fun and participated in large animal research before she was old enough to drive.
In her professional career she has had the good fortune of working with a wide variety of animal species in both research and teaching.
Through a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation, Teresa was a leading member of an international, interdisciplinary team of scientists investigating wild chimpanzees in Africa. Her team was the first to use non-invasive techniques (feces) to diagnose the cause of acute and fatal respiratory illness in wild Great Apes. By combining molecular, microscopic and epidemiological investigations, Dr. Sylvina and her team discovered that a human metapneumovirus – an emerging respiratory pathogen worldwide – was the causative agent of their illness and death.
Her dedication to academic instruction was recognized with XCaliber Team Award in 2009 from Virginia Tech for excellence in technology-assisted teaching and learning on a large-scale project, a portable laboratory that used biomimicry as a design direction with an environmentally-low-impact solution for my field studies at Mahale.
Dr. Sylvina has been in Africa for the last three years working on a US Fish and Wildlife grant.