Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Expanding international education and research has emerged throughout this decade as a significant part of Virginia Tech's strategy for fulfilling its "engagement" mission. Here in the VMRCVM, we have always had an international orientation, from the experts around the world that were recruited to create our founding faculty to the World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Veterinary Public Health and Management that we operated in the late 1980's.
Over the years, our faculty has worked with international development organizations like Heifer International and agencies of the United Nations and many of our students have conducted clerkship experiences throughout the Caribbean basin and South America.
This mission statement extracted from the international strategic plan guiding the university's efforts in this area from 2004-2011 is instructive: "Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University fosters a community that values all cultures, languages, lands and people. The university seeks to enrich its international competence and to enhance the quality of life throughout the world with scholarly engagement in education, research and outreach."
The province of veterinary medicine has always been global. But increased global trade and commerce, infectious disease threats, public health and environmental issues, as well as the emergence of a "global community" have all made it more essential than ever for universities and especially colleges of veterinary medicine to focus on international activities. As the strategic planning document points out in another section: "To be competitive domestically, Virginia Tech must be competitive internationally."
Here in the college, we have taken several steps to enhance our programming in this area, and under the leadership of Dr. Bettye Walters on our College Park campus, we are making important progress.
We are currently stewarding the development of three major new international programs. Our ongoing work with the University of Austral in Valdivia, Chile is leading to the possible development of a major Virginia Tech center in South America. Recently, I traveled there with Vice Provost for Outreach and International Affairs Dr. John Dooley and three other academic deans at Virginia Tech to work on this collaboration.
The second of these programs involves a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University in Chennai, India. This has been established through the USDA's "United States-India Agriculture Knowledge Initiative (AKI)," a program that seeks to enhance capacity building in food animal agricultural research and veterinary education. We are also actively involved with CCS Haryana Agricultural University in India.
Our newest international collaboration has been established with Chonbuk National University in Jeonju, Korea. An MOU was signed with this university in September of 2007. This will establish an exchange program and help CBNU create a zoonotic disease research center.
In order to minimize the adverse affects that animal disease has on human populations, it must be fought at the global level. International programs like these we are developing not only increase international development and promote global health and well-being through academic collaboration, they help us prepare generations of students who have the capacity, the perspective and the understanding to exert a positive impact upon our emerging global community.
Gerhardt G. Schurig
In This Issue...
Virginia Tech Researchers Find Human Virus in Chimpanzees
Walters, Zhu Honored on University of Maryland Campus
VMRCVM Commencement Hits Quarter-Century Benchmark
Fallon Named Outstanding Graduate Award Recipient
Dr. Jennifer Hensley McQuiston Named Outstanding Recent Alumna
Rossmeisl, Students Receive Awards During Recent National SAVMA Symposium
Pierson Named Director of Veterinary Teaching Hospital
Ahmed Named Head of Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
CPCVM Partners with APHIS to Provide Copies of Gray Book Across the Nation
Moore Travels to India
Weinstein Joins Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
Purswell Certified as Veterinary Acupuncturist
Three Students Honored by Virginia Tech’s Graduate School
Vice-Chancellor of Indian University Visits College
Meldrum Named Acting Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
POGCast Migrates to Web
After studying chimpanzees in the wilds of Tanzania’s Mahale Mountains National Park for the past year as part of a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, Virginia Tech researcher Dr. Taranjit Kaur and her team have produced powerful scientific evidence that chimpanzees are becoming sick from viral infectious diseases they have likely contracted from humans.
In an article to be published in the August issue (available on-line in June) of the American Journal of Primatology featuring a special section on “Disease Transmission, Ecosystems Health and Great Apes Research,” Dr. Kaur, an assistant professor in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology at Virginia Tech, will report the results of extensive field studies conducted in the jungles of Africa.
The journal article will present data from molecular, microscopic and epidemiological investigations that demonstrate how the chimpanzees living at Mahale Mountains National Park have been suffering from a respiratory disease that is likely caused by a variant of a human paramyxovirus.
The work complements and validates work published in a recent edition of Current Biology by investigators from European research institutes that describes evidence of human viruses in deceased chimpanzees found in West Africa’s Taï Forest.
The Mahale Mountains National Park’s free-ranging, “human-habituated” chimpanzee population provides excellent opportunities for scientists and tourists alike to study and view chimpanzees, the closest genetic relative of humans, in their natural habitat, Kaur said.
“Although evidence increasingly suggests that infectious diseases may be transmitted from research teams and eco-tourists to endangered great apes, we believe that this is still a bit of a leap and more research must be conducted in order to establish a comfortable level of proof,” said Kaur who has been unraveling the mystery in collaboration with scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and researchers from Japan who are conducting behavioral studies on Mahale chimpanzees.
“Exactly where this virus has come from and the specific route of transmission remains unclear at this time,” said Kaur, but she admits that mounting evidence suggests a linkage between visiting scientists and tourists and the viruses that are threatening the endangered chimpanzee population.
Scientific establishment of that linkage could affect the eco-tourism industry, which is an important source of economic development in the region and has been credited with protecting the animals from poachers and the dangers of shrinking habitats for chimpanzees and other species of great apes. She believes more research must be conducted in order to protect the region through science-based changes and interventions.
Contributing to the efficacy of Kaur’s scientific work is her background as a veterinarian who is board-certified by the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine and her expertise in public health. “In the past, investigators have been bringing parts of the natural world into the laboratory for scientific study,” she said. “Now we can bring the expertise and rigor of the laboratory into the natural world.”
The researchers can do that because of the development and deployment of an innovative, eco-friendly field laboratory called “PLUG,” which is an acronym for “portable laboratory on uncommon ground.” After Kaur’s husband and research partner, Dr. Jatinder Singh, a research assistant professor and molecular biologist, expressed frustration over “trying to conduct space-age science with stone-age tools at geographically remote study sites,” the pair collaborated with Virginia Tech’s College of Architecture and Urban Studies (CAUS) to develop a prototype field laboratory.
Working with CAUS faculty members and a team of university students, using “biomimicry” as the initial design direction, and incorporating state-of-the-art environmental technology to model the adaptability found in living organisms, the PLUG was born. The field laboratory weighs much less than a ton and can be assembled and disassembled in only a few hours by as few as two people using no tools. PLUG was field-tested in March 2007 then packaged for transatlantic shipment where further ‘in-situ’ testing has been conducted at Mahale Mountains National Park.
The PLUG has become an integral part of the base station where Kaur, Singh, and their four-year old daughter have been living in western Tanzania on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, the second deepest lake in the world, as part of a broader research project that seeks to establish a long-term health-monitoring program for these endangered great apes.
The project is sponsored through a five-year National Science Foundation CAREER grant awarded to Dr. Kaur in 2003 so she can develop a more "holistic" approach for the integration of technology, research and education through a program called “Bush-to-Base Bioinformatics.”
Kaur and Singh have been working for several years with Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) and Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI) officials on the project that seeks to protect the endangered species.
The family has learned to adjust and function in the bush, where diseases such as malaria and cholera can be contracted, and dangerous creatures like black mambas, crocodiles, leopards, and others must be avoided.
Living in the wild has also encouraged their resourcefulness. A stubborn warthog kept digging up an area near the PLUG’s external photo-voltaic cables and batteries. Their solution was to install an automobile alarm. The loud, piercing voice ordering the marauding warthog to “Step away from the car, step away from the car” every time it disturbed the laboratory seemed to solve the problem.
Two faculty members on the college's Maryland campus were recently honored for excellence during the University of Maryland's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources' (AGNR) Annual Spring Convocation.
Dr. Bettye Walters, director of the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine (CPCVM), received the 2008 Faculty Extension Assistant/Faculty Research Assistant Excellence Award.
This award is given for a truly exceptional standard of performance of duties, including the ability to be innovative within the job and address needs beyond those specifically identified within the job description.
"Since the departure of the two other CPCVM faculty, responsibility for all aspects of the center have fallen on Dr. Walters' shoulders, along with the additional duties she has assumed as director of international programs," said Dr. Siba Samal, associate dean - Maryland Campus, adding that she handles the burden with a high degree of proficiency and good humor. "She tackles every task with an enthusiasm that is infectious and motivates her peers and co-workers to do likewise," he said.
Dr. Xiaoping Zhu, an assistant professor on the UMCP campus, received the 2008 On-Campus Junior Faculty Award.
Given to an individual who has been a full-time tenure track faculty member for less than seven years, this award honors exceptional teaching and advising, research and/or extension education. Special attention is paid to the creativity and innovations of the candidate.
"I know of very few individuals who work harder, put in as many hours in the lab, are as dedicated to and focused on their work as Dr. Zhu," said Samal. "He has proven himself time and time again, and this award is certainly indicative of his extraordinary efforts. We are extremely proud to have him on our faculty."
Walters and Zhu were presented with their awards during the AGNR Spring Convocation on May 9 at the University of Maryland.
Walters received a B.S. degree from Tougaloo College in 1979 and a DVM degree from Tuskeegee University in 1983. Prior to joining the VMRCVM, Walters served as Senior Staff Veterinarian with the USDA- APHIS, Animal Care.
Zhu received a DVM degree from Ningxia University in 1984, a master's degree in veterinary pathology from China Agricultural University in 1987 and a Ph.D. degree in virology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1997. He conducted his postdoctoral research in immunology at Harvard Medical School and then served as a staff scientist at Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston, Mass. prior to joining the VMRCVM's Maryland campus in 2003.
The VMRCVM graduated 89 new veterinarians during its 25th commencement ceremony held recently at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. That brings the total number of DVM degrees awarded by the college to 2,109.
In addition to the 89 DVM degrees, the college awarded seven Ph.D. degrees, nine M.S. degrees and seven Certificates of Residency during the ceremony.
During remarks, VMRCVM Dean Gerhardt Schurig told the graduates that they were entering a profession that is doing vital work in society.
"You will run small and large businesses, you will work in government, and some of you will work in corporations," he said. "Whatever you do, wherever you work, I urge you to stand tall in your communities. Be active, be a leader, and work for change where it is needed. Citizens will look up to you and you must not let them down."
Featuring dignitaries from both Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland, the colorful pageant included the presentation of diplomas jointly awarded by Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland at College Park, the administration of the "Veterinarian's Oath," the "Hooding Ceremony," and numerous awards and honors.
In keeping with tradition, the graduating class selected a favorite faculty member to address them during the ceremony. Dr. Mark Crisman, professor, Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences (DLACS), presented a humorous keynote address that also included advice for success and happiness in the future.
Dr. Jack O'Mara, president of the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA), swore the new veterinarians into the profession through the administration of the "Veterinarian's Oath" and Dr. Steve Karras, president of the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association (VVMA), welcomed the new graduates into the profession on behalf of organized veterinary medicine.
Dr. Bom S. Inman, the valedictorian of the class of 2008, was presented the Richard B. Talbot Award, and Dr. Jennifer McQuiston was honored as the Outstanding Young Alumna.
On Friday, May 9, the college held its annual Graduation Awards Luncheon. Scores of students and faculty members were honored for their academic performance and teaching excellence during that ceremony.
Virginia Tech has named Dr. Jesse Fallon as the Outstanding Graduate in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine for the 2007-2008 academic year.
Fallon excelled academically and was ranked sixth in his class. He was the Class of 2008 vice-president, and served as president of the Private Veterinary Practitioners Club (PVPC) and as a Graduate Student Assembly Representative. He was also a member of the Companion Animal Club and the Food Animal Practitioners Club. In addition, he served as an Executive Board Member of the West Virginia Raptor Rehabilitation Center.
The Outstanding Graduate award is presented at the Student Honors Day Banquet each spring. This award is co-sponsored by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association and the senior class.
The purpose of the award is to recognize outstanding student performance in each college of the university. Students are selected on the basis of their quality credit average (3.4 or higher on a 4.0 scale) and outstanding performance in several or all of the following areas: academic achievement, extracurricular activities, leadership positions, and contributions of service to the university and/or community.
Dr. Jennifer Hensley McQuiston has been named the recipient of the 2007-2008 Outstanding Recent Alumni Award for the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine.
McQuiston exemplifies the graduate worthy of this award, according to Dr. Tom Inzana, the Tyler J. and Frances F. Young Professor of Bacteriology in the college's Department of Biomedical Sciences & Pathobiology (DBSP) and Virginia Tech's associate vice-president for research programs. Inzana served as an advisor to McQuiston during her course of study in the college.
"Dr. McQuiston has distinguished herself as a veterinary epidemiologist, responding to and addressing emerging infectious diseases and public health issues around the world that are of the utmost national and international importance," said Inzana.
McQuiston is a three-time graduate of Virginia Tech. She received her B.S. in biology in 1993, her DVM in 1997 and her M.S. in molecular biology in 1998. From 1998 to 2000, she trained with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Epidemic Intelligence Service where she was assigned to the Viral and Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch.
From 2005 to 2007, she served as Zoonoses Team Leaders in the CDC's Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, managing issues related to animal importation and the infectious disease risks they pose. She is currently the epidemiology team leader in the Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch in the National Center for Zoonotic, Vectorborne, and Enteric Diseases at the CDC. She leads a team responsible for managing outbreaks and conducting national surveillance of rickettsial diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Q fever. She is a commander in the U.S. Public Health Service, and is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine and an honorary diplomate of the American Veterinary Epidemiology Society.
McQuiston has been honored numerous times for her many contributions to public health including the Public Health Service's Crisis Response Service Award for her exemplary work in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks and Hurricane Katrina.
"The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine is proud of Dr. McQuiston's accomplishments and we are honored to count her as one of our alumni," said Inzana.
To be eligible for the Outstanding Recent Alumni Award, recipients must be graduates of the past ten years and each should have distinguished him or herself professionally in his/her career or in rendering service to the university since graduating. The faculty of each college nominates and decides upon the recipient for their individual college.
McQuiston was presented with her award during the college's spring commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 10, 2008 in the Commonwealth Ballroom.
Dr. John Rossmeisl, an assistant professor in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences (DSACS), was recently presented the 2008 Student AVMA Teaching Excellence Award-Clinical Sciences during the SAVMA symposium hosted by Auburn and Tuskegee Universities' Colleges of Veterinary Medicine.
"Dr. Rossmeisl's award speaks well of the quality of our teaching," said VMRCVM Dean Gerhardt Schurig, noting the college has won this national award four times in the past four years. Dr. Scott Pleasant, associate professor, DLACS, won in the clinical sciences category in 2005 and Drs. Marion Ehrich, professor, DBSP, and Kevin Pelzer, associate professor, DLACS, won both the basic science and clinical science categories respectively in 2006.
The national honorees are selected on the basis of nominations presented by students at each of the nation's 28 colleges of veterinary medicine.
The clinical sciences award recognizes excellence, innovation, and enthusiasm in the field of clinical veterinary science and education.
"Just as a person can be fluent in a foreign language, Dr. Rossmeisl is fluent in veterinary medicine," wrote DVM student Michael Hickey ('09) in his letter nominating Rossmeisl.
"Since his lectures are so well organized and complete, it often requires students to seek new information rather than a recitation of already addressed facts. He recognizes that we are developing our abilities to think clinically, and he expects us to show this growing ability on his exams," wrote Hickey, who also won "best submission" for his letter of nomination.
In total, approximately 25 students from the VMRCVM attended this year's SAVMA Symposium where they attended numerous lectures and labs and participated in a variety of challenges against students from the nation's other colleges of veterinary medicine.
Aaron Lucas ('10) placed first in the individual Parasitology Challenge and Stacie Boswell ('09) placed third in the individual Bovine Palpation Challenge.
In addition, teams from the college took first place honors in the Jeopardy Challenge and placed second or third in five other events including the SAVMA Challenge, Name that Breed, Equine Aging, Parasitology Challenge, and Bovine Palpitation. Participating students were: Jennifer Crain ('09); Sarah Krall ('10), Jennifer Sutton ('11), Brian Kopec ('11), Brooke Hoffman ('09), Michele Farrar ('09), Aaron Lucas ('10), Theresa Williams('09); Stacie Boswell ('09); Megan Buchanan ('11); Jennifer Crain ('09); Molly Conca ('11); Amy Doernte ('10); Julie Sanders ('09); Weston Mims ('10); Brooke Ridinger ('09); and Tiffany Borjeson ('10).
Dr. F. William "Bill" Pierson has been named director of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech. Pierson had been serving as interim director since July 9, 2007.
"Dr. Pierson has distinguished himself as a capable and effective professional," said Dr. Gerhardt Schurig, dean of the veterinary college. "He has provided important leadership to our college and hospital over the past 10 months and I look forward to working with him in the future in this capacity."
As hospital director, Pierson will be responsible for developing and implementing hospital policy and procedure, insuring state-of-the-art care for patients, and providing a dynamic and continually improving clinical environment that promotes scholarly and educational activities.
Prior to his appointment as interim director, Pierson served the college as an associate professor of biosecurity and infection control and a clinical specialist in avian medicine in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences. He received his DVM as a member of the college's charter class in 1984 and his Ph.D. in avian medicine from Virginia Tech in 1993.
He is board certified as a diplomate by the American College of Poultry Veterinarians and is a member of the American Association of Avian Pathologists, the Association of Avian Veterinarians, the Poultry Science Association, the North Eastern Conference on Avian Diseases, and Phi Zeta.
Ahmed, a professor of immunology who has been a DBSP faculty member since 1989, had been serving in an interim capacity in this position over the past few months.
"Dr. Ahmed is an accomplished researcher and administrator," said Dr. Gerhardt Schurig, dean of the veterinary college. "His leadership will be vital as we continue to build our research program."
Ahmed holds a DVM from the University of Agricultural Sciences in Bangalore and a Ph.D. from the School of Veterinary Studies, The Murdoch University, Australia. He is a member of the American Association of Immunologists and the International Cytokine Society.
Ahmed's research is focused on studying the relationship between estrogens and naturally occurring estrogen mimicking compounds in the environment, the immune system and the development of autoimmune disorders.
The Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine (CPCVM) has collaborated with the United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Inspection Service (APHIS) on a Cooperative Agreement that has purchased over 2800 copies of the book, Foreign Animal Diseases, Seventh Edition, revised in 2008, by the Committee on Foreign and Emerging Diseases of the United States Animal Health Association.
This book is also known as The Gray Book and it is literally "hot off the presses," according to Dr. Bettye Walters, director of the center, who helped lead the initiative.
The books were recently mailed to every first-year student in each of the 28 veterinary colleges in the United States. The books were accompanied by a letter signed by Walters and Dr. John Clifford, deputy administrator for veterinary services with APHIS. The book contains descriptions of 48 diseases, with the most up-to-date information and photos from experts around the world.
"This book covers diseases that could be seen in all types of practices: small animal, exotics, food animal, equine, and public practice," wrote Walters and Clifford in the letter. "We hope that it will assist you in your time in veterinary school and after you graduate."
The first Gray Book was published in 1953 and was edited in 1964, 1975, 1984, 1992, 1998, and now, 2008.
The CPCVM serves as a national resource for all veterinary colleges. In addition to the book distribution, the Cooperative Agreement with APHIS has provided training for vet students in all 28 U.S. veterinary colleges on all aspects of public practice; served as a recruitment tool for APHIS for veterinary and undergraduate students seeking summer employment and clerkship opportunities; and provided and arranged for a national symposium on career opportunities for veterinary students in public practice careers.
Dr. David M. Moore, associate vice-president for research compliance at Virginia Tech and associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology (DBSP) in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, recently spent a week in India where he made a major presentation and trained veterinary and technical staff in laboratory animal medicine and discussed a developing academic exchange program with Indian university officials.
Moore's trip was sponsored by the International Institute for Biotechnology and Toxicology (IIBAT) in Padappai, Tamil Nadu, India. While there, he conducted training on ethical issues associated with animal use, non-animal alternatives, and husbandry of the rabbit for the organization's technical and veterinary staff. He and a team of two other laboratory animal consultants from the United States also reviewed IIBAT's animal health monitoring program and assessed blueprints for a proposed three-story animal research facility at the institute.
Moore also met with Dr. Palanimuthu Thangaraju, vice-chancellor of the Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS), and Dr. B. Murali Manohar, director of the Centre for Animal Health Studies at TANUVAS in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. They discussed the Memorandum of Understanding between TANUVAS, Virginia Tech, and the VMRCVM, and areas of education and research that will be enhanced at each institution based upon this collaborative effort.
Moore also met with Dr. Lalitha John, dean of the Madras Veterinary College, while in Chennai and presented a one-hour lecture on "Laboratory Animal Medicine as a Veterinary Career" to the faculty and administration of the Madras Veterinary College. The presentation was well received by the administration, including Dr. Murali Manohar, who along with the dean, voiced interest in targeting lab animal veterinary training in their curriculum.
Moore also presented two invited lectures, comprising three-hours, at the "International Seminar on Issues in Preclinical Toxicity and Pathology Studies," held in Chennai. He spoke on "Humane Endpoints in Toxicology Studies - Regulatory and Ethical Considerations", and also on "Factors (Variables) Affecting Animal Research Data Validity."
Dr. Nicole M. Weinstein will join the college effective June 1 as an assistant professor of clinical pathology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology.
She comes to the college from the University of Pennsylvania where she completed a residency in clinical pathology.
"We are very pleased to welcome Dr. Weinstein," said Dr. Ansar Ahmed, head of the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathology (DBSP). "We look forward to many contributions in clinical pathology and clinical and instructional programs that she will bring to these important areas of our department and our college."
Weinstein received her bachelor of science degree in biochemistry and veterinary science in 1997 from the University of Arizona and her DVM in 2001 from Colorado State University. In addition to her residency, she also completed a transfusion medicine fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania and a small animal residency at Tufts University. She is a member of the American Society for Veterinary Clinical Pathology.
Dr. Beverly Purswell, a professor in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences (DLACS), has graduated from the medical acupuncture course at Colorado State University and is now a certified veterinary acupuncturist.
Acupuncture, which has its roots in eastern countries, is a technique of inserting and manipulating very fine needles into specific points on the body with the intention of relieving pain and other therapeutic purposes. This ancient practice has long been used among human patients and, over the past few years, has gained popularity and recognition in veterinary medicine.
"Acupuncture certainly does not replace traditional veterinary medicine," said Purswell. "It can, however, compliment the therapies we already use."
As part of her training, Purswell spent four weeks participating in lectures and laboratories. While she and her colleagues were primarily trained on canine and equine models, they also saw cattle, sheep, camelids, and some exotic animals.
She plans to use her new skills in her work in theriogenology, the specialized field of veterinary medicine that focuses on reproduction. "I will immediately start using acupuncture on my reproductive cases, especially in female and male infertility," said Purswell.
She also intends to start research utilizing acupuncture in subfertile/infertile male dogs. "We have great need for any treatment that might be effective in this area," she explains, "due to the lack of options using current traditional medicine."
Purswell's certification brings the number of veterinary acupuncturists in the college to six. They include: Dr. Mark Crisman, a professor in the DLACS who also an instructor for the acupuncture certifying course for the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society; Dr. Wally Palmer, a clinical assistant professor in the DLACS; Dr. Scott Pleasant, associate professor in the DLACS; Dr. Rachel Tan, a resident in the DLACS; and Dr. Bess Pierce, an associate professor in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences (DSACS) who leads the Veterinary Teaching Hospital's community practice.
Purswell received her DVM and her M.S. and Ph.D. in immunology from the University of Georgia. She is board certified by the American College of Theriogenologists and is a member of numerous professional organizations including the Southwest Virginia Veterinary Medical Association, the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association, the Society for Theriogenology, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, and the American College of Theriogenologists.
Three graduate students in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine were recently honored and recognized by Virginia Tech’s Graduate School during the Graduate Education Week Awards Banquet.
Dr. Rachel Tan and Ben Lepene were named the 2008 Outstanding Graduate Students for the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine.
This award was established in 2001 by the Virginia Tech Graduate School to recognize the most outstanding master’s and doctoral students selected by an honorifics committee in each college.
Tan, who is also a resident in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, was named the outstanding master’s student for her research entitled, “Comparison of Pulmonary Indices of Oxidative Stress Between Exhaled Breath Condensate (EBC) and Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid (BALF) Collected from Healthy and Recurrent Airway Obstruction (RAO)-affected Horses.”
“In spite of a high commitment to the clinics and her residency, Dr. Tan conducted and completed this complex research project meeting all the milestones established by her M.S. committee,” said Dr. Craig Thatcher, her advisor. “She is a resident and graduate student who is held in high esteem by the faculty, staff, and students and is always a team player.”
Lepene, who has been a student in the National Science Foundation-funded, Integrated Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT), titled “Macromolecular Interfaces with Life Sciences (MILES)” since 2004, was named the college’s outstanding doctoral student.
The MILES-IGERT program brings together student and faculty in four colleges across the university to collaborate on research of oxidative processes. With his research, “Synthesis and Evaluation of a Bio-Inspired Targeted Antioxidant Delivery System for the Mediation of Cellular Oxidative Damage and Inflammation,” Lepene has truly accomplished interdisciplinary research by bridging the disciplines of chemistry, engineering, and biology, according to Thatcher, who served as his Ph.D. major professor.
“Ben has played a leadership role in working with other MILES-IGERT Ph.D. students that wanted to incorporate a biological component into their research,” said Thatcher. “He has been an asset to our laboratory and has developed into a talented researcher.”
Nathanial Burke, a member of the DVM Class of 2011, who also completed his master’s degree in the college, was also recognized during the banquet as the recipient of the 2007 William Preston Thesis Award in the biomedical and veterinary sciences category for his research entitled, “Assessment of redox markers in cattle.”
The William Preston Society presents this award to a student whose master’s thesis presents the best original research with potential to benefit all people. Burke was formally presented with his award at a luncheon held earlier in the academic year.
“Nathaniel is an exceptional student and young scientist with an insatiable thirst for knowledge,” said Dr. Terry Swecker, an associate professor in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences who served as his advisor. “His efforts are easily in the top one percent of graduate students that I have encountered.”
Burke’s research was also nominated to the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools for the 2008 Master’s Thesis Award in the “Life Sciences” category.
Dr. Palanimuthu Thangaraju, vice-chancellor of Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS) in Chennai, India, recently visited the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (VMRCVM) as part of a rapidly developing exchange program between the Indian university and Virginia Tech.
During his visit to Blacksburg, Thangaraju met with President Charles Steger, Provost Mark McNamee, VMRCVM Dean Gerhardt Schurig and other leaders from around the college and university to discuss a variety of opportunities, including the upcoming joint faculty/student exchange programs between TANUVAS and the veterinary college and the proposed Virginia Tech Center in Chennai. He also met with Dr. Roop Mahajan, director of the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science, to discuss possible collaborative projects between TANUVAS and Virginia Tech in nanotechnology and food processing and he held discussions with Dr. Tom Wilkinson, head of the Institute of Distance and Distributed Learning, to develop e-learning modules for continuing education of veterinarians in India.
In addition, Thangaraju presented a lecture entitled “Molecular Characterization of Indigenous Germplasm of Livestock by Microsatellite Markers” for the Virginia Tech community and visited with faculty members from around the university.
“This visit is very important to foster the existing relationship between TANUVAS and VT and it will pave way for many new avenues of collaboration in teaching, research, and extension,” said Dr. Elankumaran Subbiah, assistant professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology (DBSP), who helped coordinate the visit along with Dr. Nammalwar Sriranganathan, professor, DBSP.
Prior to his arrival in Blacksburg, Thangaraju visited the Maryland campus of the VMRCVM where he toured their BSL-3 laboratory facilities and presented the seminar given at Virginia Tech. He also visited the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center to discuss the possibility of future collaborative projects in equine medicine and surgery.
TANUVAS and the VMRCVM are jointly organizing a second annual international conference on emerging infectious diseases and animal biotechnology in India this summer, according to Sriranganathan. A delegation from the college and others from around the university, including Dean Schurig, will be attending the event in July.
Dr. J. Blair Meldrum, a professor of toxicology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology (DBSP), has been named the college’s acting associate dean of academic affairs effective June 1.
He will fill the vacancy left by Dr. Grant Turnwald who is returning to full time faculty status before retiring in 2009. Meldrum will serve in this capacity until an associate dean for professional programs has been identified and is in place.
“As many in our college will remember, Dr. Meldrum served very effectively as associate dean for academic affairs from 1987 until 1997,” said Dean Gerhardt Schurig. “We are fortunate to once again have him serving in this capacity.”
Meldrum earned his DVM and Ph.D. from the University of Saskatchewan. He joined the college in 1980 as an associate professor and director of diagnostic toxicology. Prior to coming to Virginia Tech, he was the acting director of the animal pathology laboratory for the Canada Department of Agriculture in Saskatchewan, Canada.
The college's POGCast is now available on the web. Created more than two years ago in an effort to provide more comprehensive information about the college's achievements and programmatic benchmarks, the POGCast is featured on six flat-screen monitors located throughout the college's three campuses. The "POG" in POGCast stands for "Progress on Goals."
Information available on the POGCast focuses on academic achievements and other accomplishments made by the college's faculty, staff, students and alumni; progress recorded in programmatic areas such as clinical caseloads in the college's veterinary teaching hospitals and proposals submitted and funded through the research division; progress made in the college's advancement activities; and other honors and accolades.
Produced in a user-friendly, information-rich and graphically pleasing way, the POGCast is an excellent way to keep up with the many positive things that are happening in the VMRCVM. The current edition contains over 200 individual slides.
Moving the POGCast to the web will make it easier for friends of the college to view the program from remote locations and others to view it from individual work-stations. The program will still be available on the monitors located in public areas of the college.
The program is managed by Public Relations Coordinator Christy Jackson and graphically produced by Web Developer Rebecca Stotler, both staff-members in the Office of Public Relations and Communications.