Alumni, faculty recognized at 2016 Virginia Veterinary Conference

The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine maintained a strong presence at the 2016 Virginia Veterinary Conference. Held at the Hotel Roanoke in late February, the conference was organized by the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association (VVMA) and included lectures, meetings, and an awards ceremony featuring college faculty and alumni.

The conference attracted more than 400 veterinarians, veterinary students, and licensed veterinary technicians, plus more than 60 exhibitors. The college had a booth with faculty volunteers and heavily promoted the college’s clinical trials and research. In addition, it raised more than $2,000 for the Peter Eyre Scholarship at the conference’s silent auction.

VVMA's 2016-17 executive committee (l-r) Melinda McCall (DVM ’04), president-elect; Jason Bollenbeck, vice-president; Terry Taylor, immediate past president; Peggy Rucker, president; and Marty Betts, secretary-treasurer.

Melinda McCall (DVM ’04) of Louisa, Virginia, was named president-elect of the VVMA. She is the owner of Louisa Veterinary Services and received the veterinary college’s Outstanding Recent Alumna Award in 2014. McCall is active in promoting agriculture in her community and works closely with 4-H and young farmer groups. She is also a past president of the Virginia Academy of Food Practitioners.

Numerous faculty members gave presentations and lectures, including Phil Pickett, professor of ophthalmology in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences; Jennifer Barrett, the Theodora Ayer Randolph professor of equine surgery at the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center; John Rossmeisl, associate professor of neurology and neurosurgery; John Currin, clinical associate professor of production management medicine in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences; and Bill Pierson, professor of biosecurity and infection control in the Department of Population Health Sciences.

The conference also gave attendees an opportunity to discuss mental health and suicide risk in the profession. The opening night included a presentation on “Risk Factors for Suicide, Attitudes Toward Mental Illness, and Practice Related Stressors Among Veterinarians.” Trent Davis, a licensed professional counselor at Virginia Tech’s Cook Counseling Center who provides animal-assisted counseling for veterinary students, co-facilitated a follow-up presentation the next day.


Dean Cyril Clarke met with Veterinary Medical Association (VMA) leaders during the conference. Pictured are (l-r) Maryland VMA's Andrew O’Carroll (DVM ’08), Dean Clarke, West Virginia VMA's Shawn Sette, Virginia VMA's Peggy Rucker and Jeff Newman, and District Of Columbia VMA's Gail Hansen.

Alumni and faculty awards

Claudia True (DVM ’86) was named the Paul F. Landis Veterinarian of the Year.

Claudia True (DVM ’86) of Ashland, Virginia, was named the Paul F. Landis Veterinarian of the Year. Described as “a dedicated servant to the veterinary profession for over 25 years,” True has served as a board member and past president of the VVMA and past president of the Virginia Association of Equine Practitioners. She was one of the founding veterinarians of the Potomac Regional Veterinary Conference and has served as Virginia’s equine program committee member since 2011.

True, who also earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Virginia Tech, began a six-year term on the Virginia Tech Alumni Association Board of Directors last spring. Since 1987, she has practiced veterinary medicine at Woodside Equine Clinic, which provides routine and emergency care in Ashland.


Kim Bridges (DVM ’05) received the Distinguished Veterinarian of the Year Award.

Kim Bridges (DVM ’05) of Christiansburg, Virginia, received the Distinguished Veterinarian of the Year Award. After graduation, Bridges worked with eight other veterinarians at a predominately dairy practice in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where she developed and led a milk-quality assessment program. Bridges instituted a similar program at Appalachian Veterinary Services, where she is now a managing veterinary partner and office manager.

Her involvement at the mixed animal practice includes medical and surgical services on dairy and beef cattle, equine preventative care, and milk quality and records analysis for dairy clients. Bridges, who also earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Virginia Tech, places a strong emphasis on producer education and development and serves as a mentor for numerous veterinary students.


Ben Halsey (DVM ’06) received the Recent Graduate Leadership Award.

Ben Halsey (DVM ’06) of Marion, Virginia, received the Recent Graduate Leadership Award. After earning a bachelor’s degree in biology from Virginia Tech and his doctor of veterinary medicine degree from the veterinary college, Halsey returned to his hometown in Marion to open the Smyth County Animal Hospital with his wife in 2008.

Halsey, who describes himself as “a lifelong student of veterinary medicine,” was the first president of the Appalachian Veterinary Medical Association and now represents the organization on the VVMA board. He is also a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and American Animal Hospital Association.



Mindy Quigley, clinical trials coordinator, received the Friend of the VVMA Award.

Mindy Quigley of Blacksburg, Virginia, received the Friend of the VVMA Award, which honors a non-veterinarian who provides outstanding contributions to the veterinary profession in Virginia. Before joining the college as its clinical trials coordinator in 2014, Quigley was employed by Sir Ian Wilmut, who cloned the sheep Dolly, and later worked as a project manager for the Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic, founded by author J.K. Rowling in memory of her late mother.

During a short period of time, Quigley not only tripled the enrollment in clinical trials at the veterinary college, but also helped establish the Collaborative Research Network to enable specialty practices in Virginia and Maryland to participate in the college’s cutting-edge research. Under her leadership, the college’s Veterinary Clinical Research Office works closely with research sponsors, academic partners, pet owners, and referring veterinarians to advance human and animal health.


Andrew O’Carroll (DVM ’08) was named the Mentor of the Year. He received his award from Melinda McCall (DVM ’04), who was named VVMA president-elect.

Andrew O’Carroll (DVM ’08) of Mount Airy, Maryland, was named the Mentor of the Year. A member of the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association, O’Carroll practiced companion animal medicine at a private practice in central Maryland for six years after graduation. He then left to pursue a career in public health and now works as a medical regulatory reviewer for the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Vaccine Research and Review. This spring, he will be commissioned into the U.S. Public Health Service.

Outside of his public health career, O’Carroll serves as vice president of the Western Maryland Veterinary Medical Association, a board member for the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association, and as the Maryland delegate to the American Veterinary Medical Association. He has volunteered his time with the mentor program for the past six years and is known as an “enthusiastic and welcoming” mentor who invites his mentees to visit the FDA.

New Alumni Board Leadership

The Virginia Veterinary Conference also featured an Alumni Board meeting and election of new officers.  Lisa Carter (DVM ’87) of Staunton, Virginia, was elected president of the Alumni Board. A partner at the Augusta Valley Animal Hospital, Carter does endoscopy for the small animal hospital and has a special interest in gastrointestinal diseases. She is past president of the VVMA and also served previously as the Virginia delegate to the American Veterinary Medical Association. Carter received the Virginia Distinguished Veterinarian of the Year Award in 2008. In addition, Adam Henderson (DVM ’11) of Virginia Beach, Virginia, was named president-elect of the Alumni Board.

Marian Shaw (DVM ’85) of Chester, Maryland, was sworn in as a new member of the Alumni Board. She is a practice owner at Chesapeake Veterinary Hospital in Maryland, where her main interests are laser surgery, sports medicine, pet birds, and exotic pets. Shaw does volunteer work in wildlife medicine and has worked with veterinarians at The National Zoo and Sea World. She also raises, trains, and shows Labrador retrievers and Norfolk terriers.