Julie Ellis, PhD

NWDC Director


Senior Research Investigator
Pathobiology, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine

Julie Ellis is a Senior Research Investigator at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. She received her PhD at Brown University’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, where she studied coastal ecology with a focus on seabirds as ecosystem engineers. Dr. Ellis joined Cummings School in 2006 to manage the Seabird Ecological Assessment Network (SEANET), a citizen science program that brings together researchers and the public to identify and mitigate threats to marine birds. Upon investigating a die-off of common eiders (a type of sea duck) on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, her initial efforts led to a collaborative project across 20 different organizations, which resulted in the discovery of a novel virus that affects these ducks. The eider investigation inspired the need for a better system of collaboration to be applied to wildlife diseases in the region. In 2010, Dr. Ellis and Cummings School graduate Sarah Courchesne (DVM) began the NWDC. NWDC's first members, state fish and wildlife agencies, joined in 2013. NWDC now includes eight state fish and wildlife agencies as well as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Northeast Region. Ellis also mentors students in the Master of Science in Conservation Medicine (MCM) program, co-directs the Health, Disease and the Environment course, and provides opportunities for students to get involved in wildlife studies—both through NWDC and a new wildlife tissue biobank project that is being conducted by Ellis and colleagues at the Tufts Wildlife Clinic