©2019 by Partnership for the Planet

Our Students


Republic of Congo


Melissa Hanson

DVM 2019

In 2017, through the Engaged Cornell Program, I travelled to the Republic of Congo to work with our international partner, The Jane Goodall Institute (JGI). My work primarily took place at the Tchimpounga Sanctuary, where I was fortunate enough to train with Dr. Rebeca Atencia. In preparation for their reintroduction to a native forest, we performed over thirty immobilizations on captive, wild-born chimpanzees. During their examinations, we gathered valuable morphometric and hematologic data. We utilized this information to create a standardized body condition score (BCS) system that would help us evaluate the health of the chimpanzees non-invasively following their release. 

My experience with JGI was easily the most monumental and pivotal point in my education and career to date. I am now dedicated to making conservation medicine tangible to the greater public by connecting international conservation efforts with zoos, sanctuaries, and wildlife centers here in the United States. Most people will never meet wild chimpanzees face to face, and I believe it is the responsibility of individuals like myself to bring the lessons learned in the field back home. 

I graduated with my DVM in 2019 and am currently completing a small animal rotating internship at The Animal Medical Center in New York City. I plan to continue postgraduate training with the goal of becoming a diplomate in the American College of Zoological Medicine.