A Closer Look: Featured stories and spotlights

Virginia Tech Graduate School honors outstanding students and faculty
News FeatureApril 2017

The Virginia Tech Graduate School recognized two students and one faculty member for their outstanding performances at the veterinary college at the school’s annual awards dinner during Graduate Education Week. Shaohua Lei, of Yongzhou, China, received the Outstanding Doctoral Student Award; Noelle Muro, of East Haven, Connecticut, received the Outstanding Master’s Degree Student Award; and Lijuan Yuan, associate professor of virology and immunology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, received the Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award.

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Florida veterinarian Donna McWilliams (DVM ’02) brings Ut Prosim to life
Alumni SpotlightApril 2017

At an early age, Donna McWilliams knew she wanted to be a veterinarian. From the time she was in grade school, she was bringing home snakes and all sorts of animals. As an elementary student in Texas, she was paid to maintain a salt lick and water trough for a small herd of cattle. Her parents observed her natural interest in animals and were supportive. Her father was in the Navy, and she moved from Northern Virginia to Charlottesville to San Antonio as a young child.

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Megan Riveros reflects on 2017 Iverson Bell Symposium
Student SpotlightMarch 2017

Every two years, the AAVMC hosts the Iverson Bell Symposium in honor of the late Dr. Iverson Bell, the first African American veterinarian to hold the position of vice president in the American Veterinary Medical Association. Bell left an outstanding legacy of leadership and contributions in promoting diversity in veterinary medicine. I attended many different presentations about a variety of topics but enjoyed the ability to select specific programs to attend throughout the weekend that work towards creating a more diverse and inclusive environment in the veterinary profession.

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No monkey business: Blake Andrews gains hands-on experience with Malawi wildlife
Student SpotlightFebruary 2017

Blake Andrews, a third-year veterinary student from Virginia Beach, Virginia, recently traveled to Lilongwe, Malawi for a veterinary externship at the Lilongwe Wildlife Center. The externship was partially funded by a one-time international scholarship opportunity, which assisted with costs associated with airfare, food, and lodging expenses.

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High-tech 3-D imaging aims to understand heart disease in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
News FeatureFebruary 2017

On most weekends, an empty lobby at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine is a good sign. It means there are no emergency cases coming in and no dogs are being taken in or discharged from the ICU. For once, though, a full lobby meant positive news for lovers of the Cavalier Kings Charles Spaniel during a special weekend clinic to assess the hearts of 30 Cavaliers.

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Recent alumna Lindsey McCrickard (DVM ’11) pursues career in global public health
Alumni SpotlightFebruary 2017

“I realized that I love interacting with people and working on problems that are cross-cutting between humans and animals,” McCrickard said. “Thinking about the movement of disease within a population rather than an individual animal really spoke to me, and I felt that I could make a much greater impact focusing on public health.”

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A New Curriculum for 21st Century Veterinary Medicine
News FeatureFebruary 2017

The curriculum affords more opportunities for team-based learning, enabling students to share their different perspectives with each other. “For me, I have a lot of large animal experience, so I can bring that,” Graham said. “Other people have had small animal experience, so we can all come together and apply what we know and share it with each other.”

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Veterinary student Evymarie Prado-Sanchez finds inspiration and connection at national diversity conference
Student SpotlightNovember 2016

Eagerness for science and research has been cultivated in me since my early years by a deep fascination not only with animal health, but also understanding the famous question, “Why?” In October, I continued exploring the world and my thirst for science in Long Beach, California at the 2016 SACNAS National Diversity in STEM Conference. This Puerto Rican student got to experience the Golden State and a four-hour jetlag for science!

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Veterinary service fraternity personifies “Ut Prosim,” recognized at national conference
Student SpotlightNovember 2016

Last month, I traveled to Champaign, Illinois to attend the national OTS Grand Council meeting held on Oct. 21-23. The meeting is held yearly at different veterinary schools and this was the first time I was able to attend. Grand Council is a unique opportunity to meet with veterinary students from other chapters around the country to share experiences and successes from the last year.

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Millie Harman walks again after disc repair at Veterinary Teaching Hospital
News FeatureOctober 2016

From her very first visit to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Millie Harman’s sweet, spunky personality captured the hearts of everyone around her. “Millie is a firecracker,” explained her owner Sandra Harman, a retired school administrator from Bland County, Virginia. “Everyone there at the hospital truly fell in love with Millie.”

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Tenacious terrier Charlie Spillman beats brain cancer
News FeatureSeptember 2016

Don’t let that teddy bear face fool you—Charlie Spillman is a fighter. The tenacious terrier survived two brain surgeries, countless procedures, and two different clinical trials while battling a brain tumor. His most recent clinical trial took place at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech.

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VetTRAC Summer Program offers underrepresented students a peek into the veterinary profession
News FeatureAugust 2016

A group of undergraduate students from around the country now have a better understanding of what it takes to become a veterinarian thanks to a program at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech. The second annual VetTRAC Summer Program offered a week of hands-on experiences, lectures, and tours for students from underrepresented populations interested in veterinary medicine.

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Carmen Ledesma-Feliciano returns to alma mater for virology meeting
Alumni SpotlightJuly 2016

Originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, Carmen Ledesma-Feliciano began her undergraduate career at the University of Puerto Rico before transferring to the University of Maryland at College Park, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in pre-professional animal sciences in 2006. After graduating, Ledesma-Feliciano worked with research animal care company Priority One Services at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland before applying to the veterinary college.

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Alumni Society president Lisa Carter (DVM '87) is committed to service
Alumni SpotlightJuly 2016

Lisa Glasscock Carter graduated with her doctor of veterinary medicine degree in 1987 with the fourth graduating class from the veterinary college, quickly becoming an integral member of the Virginia veterinary community. Throughout her career, she has served as president of the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association (VVMA), the Virginia Delegate to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and received the Virginia Distinguished Veterinarian of the Year Award in 2008.

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Focus on Faculty: William E. Monroe
Focus on FacultyJune 2016

When not seeing patients in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital’s internal medicine service or conducting research on endocrine diseases such as diabetes mellitus, William E. Monroe is searching for new ways to make the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine a more diverse and inclusive place. Monroe, who is a professor of internal medicine in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, has taken on many leadership roles in the college’s ongoing efforts to promote diversity and inclusion. He was a member of the college’s original committee on diversity and is the chair of the current committee.

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Lijuan Yuan gains rotavirus research experience during sabbatical in Australia
News FeatureJune 2016

An enteric virus researcher for over 23 years, Lijuan Yuan, associate professor of virology and immunology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, was thrilled to spend a six-month sabbatical at the University of Melbourne in Australia, working with Barbara Coulson in her prestigious rotavirus pathogenesis and immunity laboratory.

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College Celebrates Class of 2016 Commencement
News FeatureMay 2016

The college celebrated its 2016 commencement with ceremonies held on Thursday, May 12 and Friday, May 13. On Thursday afternoon May 12, the Graduate School awarded degrees to the college’s 35 Master of Public Health, two Master of Science in Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences, and four Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences students in a commencement ceremony held in Cassell Coliseum. The college held its DVM program commencement on Friday, May 13, awarding degrees to 116 new doctors of veterinary medicine. The ceremony was held for the first time in the Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre in the Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech. Earlier that morning, Virginia Tech recognized the graduates in the university-wide commencement ceremony held in Lane Stadium.

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Our Mission Trip to Kenya
Student SpotlightMay 2016

Each summer, many of our veterinary students travel the globe to take part in service and experiential learning projects in order to both serve the global community and gain invaluable learning experiences in veterinary medicine. In summer 2015, Taylor Scott, a fourth-year student from Altavista, Virginia and Tracy Perdew, a fourth-year student from Vienna, Virginia, had the opportunity to travel to the Maasai Mara region of Kenya with the Veterinarians with a Mission Programme (VMP) to administer veterinary aid to the Maasai tribe of Kenya. They detail their experience in this travel summary.

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“Becoming the Beach Boys” author Jim Murphy hails from the Class of 1997
Alumni SpotlightMay 2016

At age 36, looking for a career change, Jim Murphy decided to apply to veterinary school. He had “always admired the profession of veterinary medicine as providing a unique opportunity to combine science, medicine, and communication/people skills to help people protect and preserve the bond they share with their companion animals,” but had spent most of his career working in Washington, D.C. at the Postal Service Headquarters as a writer, congressional liaison, ceremony coordinator, and speechwriter.

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College seeks donations for faculty-initiated Veterinary Public Practice and Public Health Travel Scholarship
Student SpotlightApril 2016

Fourth-year veterinary student Sam Grossberg’s education would not have been the same without his external rotations away from Blacksburg.

"Some of my most memorable rotations have been with the USDA and CDC where I’ve worked with teams that impact zoonotic disease control, policy, human health, and animal health at the population level every day,” said Grossberg, who is a public and corporate track student from Rockville, Maryland."

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Focus on Faculty: James Brown
Focus on FacultyApril 2016

James Brown is a clinical assistant professor of equine surgery at the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center. He received his bachelor of veterinary science degree with honors from the University of Melbourne in Melbourne, Australia before earning a graduate diploma in agricultural economics from the University of England in Armidale, New South Wales, Australia. He completed a residency in equine production at the University of California at Davis and a three-year residency at the Equine Medical Center to earn a master’s degree in biomedical and veterinary science. Brown is board certified by the American College of Theriogenologists and achieved Dipolomate status through the American College of Veterinary Surgeons in 2011.

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Aspiring disease detective Betsy Schroeder gains research, international experience in dual-degree program
Student SpotlightMarch 2016

Betsy Schroeder of Johnstown, Pennsylvania accidentally applied to the DVM/Ph.D. dual degree program when she checked a box thinking she was simply requesting more information while filling out her application paperwork for the veterinary college. When she unexpectedly received an interview for the dual degree program, however, her bosses at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) immediately told her that “you need to do the dual degree. It will give you more options career-wise,” Schroeder explained.

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Reflections on the 2016 AVMA Legislative Fly-In
Student SpotlightMarch 2016

They always tell you to avoid religion and politics, but in early March, I broke that rule and attended the 2016 AVMA Legislative Fly-In. Some may wonder whatever possessed me to visit the District, especially during the craziness of an election year. Ironically, my interest in policy began far from the United States. In July 2012, I attended the University of Pretoria in South Africa for a Vets-in-the-Wild trip which empowered me to become more involved in policy.

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Our summer in India: An experience of a lifetime
Student SpotlightMarch 2016

After nearly 20 hours of travelling, we arrived in Chennai, India at 4 a.m. in early July. We were immediately met with the hospitality of students and faculty of the Tamil Nadu University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (TANUVAS) and we settled in to our hostel to take some much needed rest.

We spent our first two and a half weeks at the Madras Veterinary College (MVC) in Chennai, which provides medical care for an incredible caseload of animals in the heart of the city of Chennai, the second largest city in India.

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Focus on Faculty: Tanya LeRoith
Focus on FacultyMarch 2016

Tanya LeRoith is a clinical associate professor of anatomic pathology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology. She received her bachelor’s degree in animal science from the University of Maryland before completing her doctor of veterinary medicine degree at the the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. She later earned her doctorate in microbiology/pathology from Washington State University. LeRoith joined the college in 2005 and holds research interests in animal models of infectious disease, viral immunology, and comparative pathology. She is also a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists and has received numerous awards, including the 2005 Harriet B. Rigas Award for Outstanding Women in Graduate Studies at the Doctorate Level.

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Morgan Brown monitors animal involvement in films through summer internship
Student SpotlightFebruary 2016

The words “No animals were harmed...” are such a common part of end credits that film and TV viewers have come to expect them. Veterinary student Morgan Brown now has an insider’s view into how these words ultimately arrive at the end of movies and shows. After learning of the American Humane Association’s Film and T.V. Unit’s summer internship program through her film studies minor at Pennsylvania State University, she immediately started seeking the right person to put her in contact with the program’s director.

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Focus on Faculty: Julia M. Gohlke
Focus on FacultyFebruary 2016

Julia M. Gohlke is an assistant professor of environmental health in the Department of Population Health Sciences. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Michigan and completed both a master’s degree and doctorate in environmental health from the University of Washington. Gohlke joined the college in 2015 from the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Public Health and is a member of the Society for Toxicology and Teratology Society.

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Exercise physiologist Michael Davis (MS ’95) draws from experience with sled racing dogs
Alumni SpotlightFebruary 2016

While studying ski asthma, an asthma-like disease common in elite winter athletes, as part of his Ph.D. research at Johns Hopkins University, Michael Davis approached the Iditarod head veterinarian for a possible collaboration opportunity. Davis hoped that the Iditarod, a 1,000-mile dog sled race from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska, would provide a unique opportunity to study this phenomenon in sled dogs.

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Student volunteers mark over a decade of service through Animal Welfare Foster Program
Student SpotlightJanuary 2016

Since its creation by four veterinary school students in 2004, the Animal Welfare Foster Program, or AWFP, has rescued over 500 animals from local kill shelters. In 2006, the AWFP officially became a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and though not affiliated with the university, continues to operate with the help of over 20 mostly student volunteers, serving roles from medical coordinator to foster parent to administrative.

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Focus on Faculty: Martha M. Larson
Focus on FacultyJanuary 2016

Martha M. Larson is a professor of radiology in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences. After completing a bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology from the University of Montana and in biology from the University of Georgia, she earned her doctor of veterinary medicine degree and a master’s degree from Ohio State University. She joined the college in 1986 after completing residencies in radiology and small animal medicine at The Animal Medical Center in New York City and a residency in radiology at Ohio State University. Larson is board certified by the American College of Veterinary Radiology.

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Two Colleges with a Common Vision
News FeatureJanuary 2016

Even before the establishment of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine in 1979, the veterinary sciences had a long tradition at Virginia Tech.

In 1891, the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College (now known as Virginia Tech) established a Department of Biology, which included the veterinary sciences, and then in 1959, it formed a separate Department of Veterinary Sciences. Students who wanted a veterinary degree, however, had to turn elsewhere until the creation of the regional veterinary college — a partnership between Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland.

Today, the veterinary college and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech continue their strong relationship and are working together on education, research, and service related to food supply animals.

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Roanoke veterinarian Diane D’Orazio (DVM ’85) shares her passion for wildlife rescue with students
Alumni SpotlightJanuary 2016

Since her graduation from the veterinary school with the Class of 1985, Diane D'Orazio's career has taken many paths. She's worked with dairy goats in Maryland, at an emergency veterinary clinic in Clearwater, and with Veterinarians to Cats, a Roanoke-based cat clinic run by D'Orazio's former classmate, Connie Canode. Throughout her career, however, she's always made time for volunteer wildlife rescue work.

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