Meet the researchers: Dr. Kyle Taylor

Kyle Taylor, a clinical associate professor in the Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology department in Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, looks through a microscope in his office.
Kyle Taylor, a clinical associate professor in the Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology, looks through a microscope in his office.

Since joining the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine in 2016, Dr. Kyle Taylor has dedicated his career to advancing wildlife disease research and welfare. His extensive research portfolio includes studies on elk hoof disease, moose mortality, bighorn sheep pneumonia, and diseases affecting bile-farmed Asiatic black bears.

Dr. Taylor is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists and holds a joint appointment as a pathologist in WSU’s Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, where he performs diagnostic and investigational veterinary anatomic pathology for a wide variety of domestic and wildlife species with special interests in wild Cervidae and Caprinae. He also teaches veterinary pathology to professional students in the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine curriculum and to anatomic pathology residents in the Combined Anatomic Pathology Residency/PhD Graduate Program. 

Dr. Taylor attended WSU as a student, earning a Bachelor of Science in Zoology in 2001 and his DVM in 2008. He further expanded his academic credentials with a Doctor of Philosophy from Hokkaido University in Japan and completed an anatomic pathology residency at the University of Florida followed by a pathology fellowship at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

What are your current research interests and what attracted you to that area?

I’m most passionate about discovery of new diseases, but also in surveillance and broadening our understanding of known diseases of free-range wildlife of the Western U.S. — particularly for Cervidae (deer, elk, and moose) and Caprinae (bighorn sheep and mountain goats). As part of my role as a diagnostic pathologist in the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, I frequently play a part in determining causes of death in wildlife submitted by state wildlife agencies. I am involved, therefore, in diagnosing disease outbreaks and mass mortality events, as well as monitoring the wide array of causes of death of wildlife, both common and rare. This also places me at the forefront of discovery of new infectious diseases through collaboration with my research colleagues in the College of Veterinary Medicine, and my ties with state wildlife veterinarians and managers allows me to be a part of better understanding the importance of both new and known diseases to population trends. I doubt there’s a cooler job out there.

How can your research help people and animals?

Understanding diseases in wildlife can directly inform better management of healthy wildlife populations, so that we and our children and our grandchildren and beyond can continue to enjoy the enrichment that wildlife brings to people’s lives. It also helps us understand risks at the wildlife-livestock interface that may affect the food industry, as well as of zoonotic diseases at the human-wildlife interface. My role, therefore, is a vital facet of the One Health Initiative.

What motivates you outside of work?

Family. I spend all of my time outside of work with my family. In the winter we like to play in the snow. In the summer we like to swim and paddle board. In between we like to garden and read, and my wife and I spend a lot of time shuttling the boys between school, sports, and other activities. But wherever we go, I’m always on the lookout for wildlife and their sign.

What advice would you give to younger people considering a career in science?

There is more than one way of forging a career. Don’t be discouraged by roadblocks or failed attempts or get too focused on what worked for someone else. Focus on your goals and be flexible and creative and resilient and do what works for you.

Why did you choose to come to WSU?

The Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab here at the College of Veterinary Medicine receives wildlife cases from Washington and Idaho, as well as from Oregon, Alaska, Nevada, Nebraska, Arizona, etc., accounting for a significant portion of the nation’s caseload of wild Cervidae and Caprinae, which are the focus of my greatest interest. There are only a few other places in the world that can rival the caseload fitting my particular subspecialty in veterinary anatomic pathology. And I’m a native Washington resident with two degrees from WSU, so I’m at home here.