Wildlife Watchguard

Kristen Gilardi

Kirsten Gilardi


Co-director, the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center

Impact: Developing health programs to protect and conserve wildlife and ecosystems

Veterinarian Kirsten Gilardi knows what it takes to protect all creatures great and small — endangered mountain gorillas, sea birds, marine mammals and more. At the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center, she approaches health problems with the understanding that we’re all connected as “one.”

Growing up in Davis, Gilardi’s childhood was spent visiting horse barns and attending Picnic Day. She came back to UC Davis after college to attend veterinary school. Now a School of Veterinary Medicine faculty member and leading proponent of the One Health approach — that the health of people, animals and the environment are intrinsically linked — she says she’s been shaped by UC Davis in more ways than she ever would have imagined.

“Our university is at the national and international forefront, whether it’s delivering health care for people and animals, developing new technologies and methods for feeding and transporting people, or advancing our understanding of how ecosystems function and what’s required to conserve them,” Gilardi points out. “That’s what I love about UC Davis.” 

Though she’s proud of her role in developing wildlife and ecosystem health programs through the School of Veterinary Medicine, Gilardi is quick to point out that her work is collaborative. “My colleagues at the vet school’s Wildlife Health Center, who are both mentors and friends, are absolutely 100 percent the motivation and inspiration for the work I do here.” 

Photo: Rob Hilsenroth