Sea Turtle Hospital Staff

Catherine Eastman

Sea Turtle Hospital Program Coordinator
904-461-4028 | cbeastman@whitney.ufl.edu


Catherine Eastman (Cat) has been working with sea turtles in Florida since 1998. Growing up on the Atlantic Coast (in almost every state), Cat has always had a love for the ocean and its inhabitants. She started her career with sea turtles while studying at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. There, she joined the sea turtle conservation program at Gumbo Limbo Environmental Complex as a marine turtle specialist. She transferred to University of North Florida to finish her degree and accept an Environmental Educator position at the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve. She taught environmental education to K-12 school kids and led beach and upland nature hikes to adults and undergraduates. During that time, she and her husband incorporated a conservation non-profit to help support sea turtle nesting beach work and research. When Cat is not working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and son (and golden retriever) at the beach and running.


Brooke Burkhalter, DVM

Sea Turtle Hospital Veterinarian
904-461-4025 | bmburkhalter@whitney.ufl.edu

Dr. Brooke Burkhalter graduated from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine in 2002. She spent 14 years in small animal private practice, caring for family pets and sick and injured wildlife within St. Augustine. She enjoys the internal medicine challenges and other aspects of veterinary medicine, but her main passion is soft tissue surgery. Dr. Burkhalter has advanced training in abdominal ultrasound, endoscopy, and CO2 laser surgery. Brooke has a lifelong love and admiration for all marine life, especially sea turtles. During her time in small animal practice, she spent several years volunteering at The Georgia Sea Turtle Center, assisting in the treatment of sick and injured sea turtles. Brooke is also a volunteer member of the Vilano Beach Sea Turtle Patrol, helping to protect nests and hatchlings along our beaches. As the lead veterinarian at The Sea Turtle Hospital, her primary responsibility is treating turtles affected by fibropapillomatosis. However, she is also very fortunate to work and collaborate with researchers to help better understand the disease and explore new treatment possibilities. Dr. Burkhalter is also an assisting veterinarian at The Turtle Hospital in Marathon, FL and surgeon at Flagler Integrative Veterinary Center.

Dr. Burkhalter is happily married to her high school sweetheart. Their family consists of one daughter, 2 dogs, 1 cat, 3 gerbils, 1 guinea pig, and whatever orphaned wildlife babies are in need at any given time. When she is not working, Brooke enjoys being a softball mom, CrossFit, running, SUPing, and all other things outdoors.


Rachel Thomas

Sea Turtle Hospital Veterinary Care Manager
904-461-4025 | rsthomas@whitney.ufl.edu


Originally from central Pennsylvania, Rachel Thomas obtained her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. While still in school, she completed an internship with the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center on Topsail Island, North Carolina. It was there she realized her passion for marine animal conservation and rehabilitation. After graduating from college, she was a husbandry intern at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center (GSTC) on Jekyll Island, Georgia, for eight months before being hired on full time. Rachel worked as a Rehabilitation Technician at the GSTC for six years, gaining skills and knowledge relating to chelonian husbandry and rehabilitation. She is excited to be on the ground floor with a new facility and is already to help the Sea Turtle Hospital at Whitney Lab become a top notch rehabilitation, research and education facility.


Steven Nelson

Sea Turtle Hospital Certified Veterinary Technician
904-461-4025 | nelsonjr@whitney.ufl.edu


Steven Nelson is a member of the Sea Turtle Hospital team on a part-time basis. He provides coverage as a consult/relief Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT). Licensed nationally and in the state of Florida, Steven earned his baccalaureate degree from Saint Petersburg College. Steven has a diverse background in wildlife and zoological medicine and rehabilitation and a strong passion for reptiles (particularly turtles). He currently works full time as a vet tech at Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Prior to Disney, Steven was employed by the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, on Jekyll Island, Georgia, and Mystic Aquarium/Sea Research Foundation, in Mystic, Connecticut. Steven enjoys spending his “free time” (when not rescuing sea turtles and other wildlife) spoiling his golden retriever, Ryder; and two cats, Sully and Birch. He also enjoys traveling; particularly to Vermont to visit family, ski, hike and kayak.


Devon Rollinson

Sea Turtle Hospital Veterinary Technician
904-461-4025 | devonrenee@whitney.ufl.edu

Devon was born and raised in New England where she developed a passion for nature and wildlife at an early age. It was Devon’s mother, an active wildlife rehabber, who nurtured Devon’s curiosity and desire to help all creatures big and small. She attributes her love for the field to growing up alongside a variety of North American wildlife. “I spent my childhood with orphaned raccoons, squirrels and the occasional fawn.”

After receiving a bachelors degree in Wildlife Care and Biology from Unity College in Maine; she spent some time on a rock in the middle of the Pacific (Hawaii) working with dolphins and sea lions. “It’s every kid’s dream: to become a dolphin trainer.” This is what led her to realize that marine animal conservation and rehabilitation was her calling and true passion.

After relocating back to the main-land, Devon began her career as a veterinary technician. More recently, she has worked with members from a local animal hospital to help injured and ill wildlife before joining the Sea Turtle Hospital at Whitney Lab. She is excited to be part of the Sea Turtle Hospital ”Pioneers” and is looking forward to working within her passion.

Devon enjoys spending her “free time” (when not caring for sea turtles and a variety of other animals) with her fiancé Mike and their two “furry” children; both lab-mix rescues from local shelters, Henry Jones and Joshua David, her side kick, Chuck the cockatiel and a few other “friends” who were in need of a home.  She also enjoys traveling, hiking, camping and anything water related.


Ann Osborne, DVM

Sea Turtle Hospital Relief Veterinarian 
904-461-4025


Dr. Ann Osborne graduated from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in 2008 and currently practices small animal medicine at Moses Creek Animal Hospital in St. Augustine. Her passion for conservation and marine life began as a child growing up in Brevard County, one of the busiest sea turtle nesting beaches in the country. She majored in wildlife conservation and ecology as an undergraduate at UF and developed a deep interest for scientific and clinical research. During veterinary school, her favorite patients were three loggerhead sea turtles she worked with while on her zoology clinical rotation. Ann enhanced her veterinary education with supplemental courses in marine mammal and reptile medicine, which fueled her motivation to work with marine life and pursue a research project studying sea turtle plasma protein levels. This work, published in the Journal of American Veterinary Medicine, remains the clinical standard for sea turtle blood protein reference ranges. Ann is excited and honored to be a part of the Sea Turtle Hospital team, helping to improve the health and rehabilitate sea turtles as well as gaining a better understanding of disease processes, including fibropapillomas in sea turtles through research. Ann lives in St. Augustine with her husband, two young daughters and two dogs.


SEA TURTLE HOSPITAL FOUNDING TRUSTEE COMMITTEE

SEA TURTLE HOSPITAL FOUNDING TRUSTEE COMMITTEE

  • Nancy Condron
  • Marcella Matthaei
  • Martha Dobes
  • Craig Barszo
  • Linda Myers
  • John Perkner
  • Maximillian Polyak, DVM, Mphil