Veterinarian, Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center
“As I talk to [students], teach them and show them new things, their excitement, questions and growing interests reminds me how lucky I am to do what I do, and my passion for this work gets reinvigorated.”
While some doctors apply their skills in operating rooms and research labs, Dr. Allyson McNaughton practices her veterinary techniques in waters across the globe. The Canadian native traveled from the West Indies to Oklahoma to complete her veterinary training and immersed herself immediately in aquatic animal research. McNaughton has since served as an instructor, peer reviewer for academic journals and the lead veterinarian on field work projects, including marine mammal tagging expeditions for sharks and seals. Today, she ensures the health and safety of all aquatic species at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, a platform she uses to inspire visitors and future veterinarians alike.
What kind of research are you currently engaged in?
I am currently working on a few investigations involving the medical management of the stranded sea turtles that come into our Marine Animal Care Center for rehabilitation. Specially, triage and hook removal procedures for animals that have ingested hooks from recreational fishing activity.
Did you have a favorite animal growing up?
I loved intertidal invertebrates (I still do!). All of the various animals that you find in tide pools like sea stars, urchins, anemones, crabs, snails, etc.
What do you enjoy most about budding vet students?
I benefitted greatly from my externship experience, so I am happy to give back and provide [learning] opportunities for up-and-coming vets so we can have a thriving, successful profession and continue to contribute to this growing area of [aquatic animal and zoological medicine].