Alumni Natalie Gutierrez with a turtle

Natalie Gutierrez


B.S., Animal Science, minor in Biology, California State University, Chico, 2017
M.S. in Animals and Public Policy, Tufts University, 2020


B.S., Animal Science, minor in Biology, California State University, Chico, 2017
M.S. in Animals and Public Policy, Tufts University, 2020

Current Position:
Veterinary Assistant, Banfield Pet Hospital

What were you doing before entering the Masters in Animals and Public Policy (MAPP) program?
After graduation I became a full-time veterinary assistant at a small animal clinic in my college hometown. I moved to Brighton in August, 2018 in hopes of being accepted into the MCM program. It certainly was not an easy decision for me to move all the way from California to the other side of the country! I eventually fell in love with Massachusetts and decided that I was going to give graduate school another shot, but apply to more programs that interested me this time around. Since moving, I have been interning at the Quincy location for the New England Aquarium’s Sea Turtle and Marine Mammal Rescue and Rehabilitation team. I finished my internship in June and have been volunteering ever since. I have been involved with the Aquarium’s sea turtle releases that have been happening on the Cape. More recently, I have started dog walking as some fun side work.

What aspects of MAPP led to your decision to join the program?
I had my mind set on going to veterinary school before I discovered other options that interested me even more and that is how I found out about this program. I greatly appreciate that each student can make this program their own since there are multiple areas that can be focused on and different paths that the student chooses to take. The relationships between people and animals has always drawn my interest and I believe that the MAPP program embodies these relationships. Conservation is a fairly new area to me ever since I had my abroad trip to Thailand in 2017 and I am excited to get into these topics with more information from this program.

Interests in and experience with animals.
I rode horses for 12 years, have always either had a dog or cat, and I was able to gain experience with livestock in college. Studying abroad for 2 weeks in Thailand gave me small animal surgical experience and elephant medical care experience, which was an irreplaceable opportunity. I have also worked in small animal clinics, volunteered at animal shelters, I have some newly acquired marine animal experience, and some personal owner experience with exotics (reptiles).

What do you want to focus on at MAPP? What drew you to this area?
The preservation of urban (and non-urban) wildlife biodiversity, specifically focusing on non-native species and the impacts that those have on native biodiversity. Getting involved in conservation is what really drove me to this area because biodiversity is an extremely important issue within conservation and human-animal relationships.

What are your career goals?
I am not entirely set on one career at the moment, but I am confident that this program will steer me in the right direction and help me make important connections regarding my future career. I would like to work for an organization that focuses on the welfare of animals, conservation, and education, whether that be with marine mammals or land animals.

What are your outside interests?
As I mentioned earlier I enjoy riding horses, although I have not found a place to do so in my area, going hiking, and I also have fun playing video games in my free time.

Number of pets? What type?
In Massachusetts I have my two ball pythons with me, Ceyla and Sylas, and in California my family has two dogs, Charlie and Penny (a maltipoo and chipoo).

MAPP Externship

This summer, I was fortunate enough to work with Dr. Bryan Windmiller and his staff at Zoo New England’s Grassroots Wildlife Conservation (GWC). At the beginning of the externship I remotely assisted with a data analysis project involving age analysis for GWC’s captured and documented Blanding’s turtles in Massachusetts. The MAPP program helped me understand the work that goes into protecting different species through implemented policies.
Once I was permitted to participate in field work, I aided in tracking, pit tagging, and trapping turtles at various sites in MA. I learned how to track turtles by using radio telemetry, which was challenging but rewarding, how to set up and dismantle turtle traps, and how to process turtles for data collection. Overall, my externship with GWC and skills learned from the MAPP program have been an educationally fulfilling experience that have given me many tools to utilize towards my future career.

See Externship Experience presentation here: