Uniting my Dreams

Hi everyone, my name is Ginny Mulé, and I am a current second-year student at Cornell Veterinary School in Ithaca, NY. I participated in the DANTA Primate Behavior Field School on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica during the summer between my sophomore and junior years of college at Stony Brook University. Before DANTA, I had always had an interest in conservation, and was a religious follower of Steve Irwin, Jeff Corwin, and all of the other shows from back when Animal Planet actually showed educational programming about animals. So as I boarded my flight to Costa Rica, I was filled with excitement at finally being able to realize my childhood fantasies of traipsing around the jungle looking for, and learning about, exotic animals.

During my one-month stay on the Osa, I learned a lot about the rainforest, conservation, and of course, primates. I also made an astounding self-discovery: I actually liked research. All my life I had thought of research as a boring and tedious pursuit- sitting at a lab bench with a pipette dispensing some colorful liquid into a tiny vial. Through the DANTA Field School, my eyes were opened to the magic of field research. The idea of going out into the wild, collecting information, and then analyzing it to solve problems was much more exciting to me than being cooped up in a lab.

Another thing that DANTA has done for me is that it sparked a quenchless sense of wanderlust- I have traveled to five other countries since my first visit to Costa Rica, and also made a return trip to the Osa for a short vacation with friends. It’s a running joke among my friends and family; instead of “Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego,” we play “Where in the world is Ginny?!” I know that I will continue to travel at every opportunity I get during my education, and I hope that I can make it a part of my future career.

All my life I have wanted nothing more than to become a veterinarian, a dream which I am still pursuing as I now enter my second year of studies at Cornell Veterinary School. However, because of DANTA, my interest in medicine has expanded from the clinical practice of diagnosing illness and administering treatments to the more academic pursuits of understanding the epidemiology of a disease outbreak, or the behavior of pathogens in relation to the human/wildlife interface. I was finally able to combine these passions during the summer of 2014, which I spent in Rwanda collecting fecal samples from olive baboons that live in areas of high human interaction to look for potentially zoonotic parasites. Although I’ll probably post stories and thoughts inspired by that work on this blog, for a full chronicle of those adventures I encourage you to check out my personal blog- Monkey See Monkey Poo.

I’m excited to be a contributor here, where I’ll be talking mostly about conservation issues from a veterinary (student) perspective, as well as contributing wildlife photos and meatless Monday recipes.

Hanging out with Rwanda’s mountain gorillas!

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