Tasha Desiderio


Mentor: Dr. Jim Wellehan

College of Veterinary Medicine

"I love exploring and discovering! I took the Science for Life seminar class and learned about all different types of research fields and projects. I was assigned to interview a faculty member about their research. I chose Dr. Wellehan who specializes in zoological medicine because I was interested in a project involving animals. His current and past projects and publications intrigued me so I was interested learning from him! I also ask a lot of questions so I wanted to work to find answers to them."


Animal Sciences



Research Interests

  • Zoological Medicine
  • Nutrition/Physiology
  • Pathology/Microbiology

Academic Awards

  • Bronze Medal Congressional Award 2016
  • 2nd place Community Involvement Pathfinder 2016
  • Presidential Service Award 2017
  • Emerging Scholars Program 2016


  • Honors Without Borders
  • Pre-Veterinary Medicine Club
  • UF Navigators


  • Furry Friends Animal Shelter
  • Florida Museum of Natural History
  • Jungle Friends Animal Sanctuary

Hobbies and Interests

  • Reading & learning
  • Exercising
  • Cooking
  • Volunteering

Research Description

Novel Helicobacter Species in Gopher Tortoises
By performing phylogenetic analyses, developing a qPCR for sensitive, specific, and quantitative detection, amplifying and sequencing select genes from the bacteria and applying this assay to a collection of tortoise nasal wash samples the presence of a new species of Helicobacter bacteria suspected of infecting gopher tortoises will be revealed!