Dawn obtained her B.S. in Wildlife Biology and Conservation at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. During her time in Alaska she worked for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Wildlife Veterinary Services conducting disease surveillance. This experience led her to obtain her M.S. in Biology from the University of Central Missouri where she continued researching aspects of wildlife disease and physiological parameters in wildlife.
In 2015, Dawn became an instructor at UCM where she continued conducting research focused on wildlife disease, including pathogen surveillance in wildlife populations, health parameters, ecological parameters impacting disease prevalence and pathogenicity, and vector populations. She has mentored McNair students and served on the committee of several graduate students. As an instructor she has taught Ecology, Animal Biology, Mammalogy, Field Techniques, Wildlife Policy and Law, Wildlife Diseases, and Immunology.
Dawn is continuing her education at the University of Missouri where she is pursuing her Ph.D. in Molecular Pathogenesis and Therapeutics. One of her areas of research includes vector competency of the rat flea in transmitting the plague. Her interdisciplinary education will allow her to continue her research in wildlife disease by utilizing both ecological and molecular tools.