Dr. Ayanna Carla Phillips Savage

Dr Ayanna Carla Phillips Savage is a veterinary surgeon, clinician and university lecturer who has made an invaluable contribution to aquatic animal health in Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean. She has greatly expanded the scientific knowledge of aquatic species in the region and her work has provided the information for governments and environmental organisations to map policies that can benefit the region’s environment, aquatic life and its human populations, now and in the future.

She is attached to the University of the West Indies (St Augustine) School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM). Her work in the little-explored field of Marine Mammal Medicine/Aquatic Animal Health has been key to addressing a critical gap in the field of veterinary medicine in Trinidad and Tobago and throughout much of the Caribbean region.

Dr Phillips Savage is the coordinator of the Aquatic Animal Health Unit and the Aquatic Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory, which she designed and established. She is Trinidad and Tobago’s first and only aquatic veterinarian and the only facilitator for veterinary students choosing Aquatic Animal Practice.

She pioneered the treatment, management and research in the field of aquatic animal diseases in Trinidad and Tobago, thus providing a service that was not previously available locally. She is the first lecturer and clinician in Marine Mammal Medicine/Aquatic Animal Health at the SVM and was responsible for creating the school’s  Aquatic Animal Medicine components of the veterinary curriculum, and for integrating this new aspect of veterinary medicine into the programme.

She also successfully spearheaded a five-year demonstration Greenhouse Hydroponics and Aquaponics project (2013-2018), which resulted in the creation of the first functional system of its kind at the UWI at the time. Since 2011 she has headed the Trinidad and Tobago Marine Mammal Stranding Network (TTMMSN). She coordinates the medical management, rehabilitation and release of endangered or protected sea turtles in Trinidad and Tobago.

She was also responsible for an internationally recognised effort in coordinating all interventions which led to the successful rescue, medical management, rehabilitation and release of the first reported stranded Loggerhead Sea Turtle, an endangered species, in Trinidad and Tobago in 2017.

Dr Phillips Savage spearheads educational initiatives for aquaculture industry stakeholders, colleagues, as well as the general public on issues regarding the aquatic ecosystem health and management. In 2014, she organised the first Regional One Health Workshop to be held at the UWI on “Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystems”, which introduced the principles of Aquatic One Health (the connection between human, animal and environmental health) to regional aquaculture and fisheries stakeholders, with participants from Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and the USA.

Her research projects have informed public health, fish and wildlife conservation guidelines implemented by state regulatory bodies and NGOs, including the Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA) and the Grande Riviere Nature Tour Guides Association (GRNTGA). Her knowledge and expertise have been recognised by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and she has been named to several international organisations. In 2018, she was honoured at UWI’s 70th Anniversary Celebrations with an award as one of the “70+ Outstanding UWI Women”. She continues to make valuable voluntary contributions to aquatic wildlife health management and conservation, championing the cause of preservation of the health and sustainability of Caribbean aquatic ecosystems.