A diverse and inclusive college
Dear friends and colleagues,
For academic institutions like ours, the month of May is a time of celebration. We recently held commencement ceremonies for 118 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, 35 Master of Public Health, seven Master of Science in Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences, and five Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences graduates. Among them were a record-breaking six DVM graduates — all women — who participated in Virginia Tech’s Donning of the Kente Ceremony, one of eight cultural achievement ceremonies for the university community.
Organized by the Black Organizations Council, the Donning of the Kente Ceremony celebrates the accomplishments of black and African American undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral candidates. In 1995, Virginia Tech became one of the first institutions in Virginia to observe the Donning of the Kente, which recognizes students for their hard work with a Kente stole that can be worn at university and college commencement ceremonies. As dean of the college, I had an opportunity to thank all of our Class of 2017 graduates for their hard work and dedication at the college commencement ceremony, including those who walked across the Moss Arts Center stage proudly wearing a Kente stole.
In recent years, the veterinary college has made notable progress in fostering an inclusive environment for all members of our community and promoting diversity with our college and the animal and public health professions. We are fully participating in InclusiveVT, an approach where the university community shares the collective responsibility for advancing diversity and inclusion. This involves building on our success in recruiting a diverse student body with a summer camp and mentorship program, encouraging the hiring of diverse faculty and staff members with trained search advocates, and ensuring that underrepresented populations receive the support necessary to feel at home in our community.
The college has also offered workshops and training for faculty and staff members on diversity-related topics, revamped our diversity action plan, and continued to offer student programs and activities through the college’s chapter of Veterinary Students as One In Culture and Ethnicity (VOICE). While celebrating these successes, we acknowledge that we still have much work to do to ensure that our campus community is welcoming and inclusive and that we make good on the commitment made by the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges and its DiVersity Matters initiative to promote diversity and inclusion within academic veterinary medicine.
When the Class of 2021 arrives in Blacksburg in August, we will welcome the most diverse DVM class in our history thanks to our strategic recruiting efforts and a new, holistic approach to admissions that considers life experiences in addition to academic achievement. In addition to our DVM class, our MPH and graduate students will also have good representations of diversity. For these students, diversity not only enriches their educational experience, but also prepares them for working with clients and colleagues from diverse backgrounds in their future careers. It is an absolute necessity that our students become comfortable and experienced in the kinds of relationships that will enable them to tackle animal and public health issues across all dimensions of society in the U.S. and globally. Whether or not they participate in a cultural achievement ceremony, each of these students will graduate from a college that values diversity and works toward a more inclusive college, community, and profession.
Dr. Cyril Clarke, Dean
College celebrates Class of 2017 commencement
The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine celebrated its 2017 commencement with ceremonies held on Thursday, May 11 and Friday, May 12.
During the Graduate School ceremony on May 11, 35 Master of Public Health, seven Master of Science in Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences, and five Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences students were awarded degrees.
The next morning, Virginia Tech recognized the college’s 118 new doctors of veterinary medicine (DVM) graduates in the university-wide commencement ceremony held in Lane Stadium. The college hosted its own commencement later that day, held for the second year in a row in the Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre in the Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech.
Dean Cyril Clarke welcomed friends and family who traveled to Blacksburg for the event, and supported the graduates throughout the program, and congratulated the graduates on their success. He also emphasized the graduates’ unique set of qualifications as DVM recipients. “You have received comprehensive training across all major domestic species and scientific disciplines, so you are experts in comparative biology and medicine. Not only are you trained to diagnose and treat diseases in multiple animal species, but you are uniquely qualified to understand and address the risk of disease transmission between animals and humans, so you will serve as a critical public health resource in your communities.”
Veterinary college and VCOM partner to open Center for One Health Research
The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, in partnership with the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM), has opened a newly remodeled research center housed in one of the veterinary college’s original buildings along Prices Fork Road.
This collaboration is founded on the two schools’ One Health philosophy, based on the understanding that animal health, human health, and the environment are inextricably linked and thus, professionals from these fields must work together to protect, promote, and improve overall health. The original building has been renovated to include five multi-investigator laboratory spaces for VCOM and veterinary college faculty.
In the ribbon cutting ceremony on May 9, Cyril Clarke, dean of the veterinary college, described the collaboration as the two schools coming together “in a manner which creates interdisciplinary rigor, and enthusiasm, and energy, and creates also an opportunity to put together teams that achieve a critical mass that is so essential in really accomplishing the very aspirational research goals we have.”
Dixie Tooke-Rawlins, president and provost of VCOM, also spoke at the event, emphasizing the relationship’s importance: “That’s the exciting part about this, the opportunity that we’re going to be providing … all the research faculty so that they can be successful and make both of our colleges successful in the future… Collaboration, as you know, makes all research stronger,” she said. The partnership will create dynamic research teams that facilitate both institutions’ commitments to holistic medicine and health.
Emergency colic treatment saves Salvador
Richard Gargagliano of Warrenton, Virginia, has owned horses for many years but didn’t spend a lot of time riding them. The needs of his family always came first — and they did the riding.
After he and his wife became empty-nesters, Gargagliano began a search for the perfect trail-riding horse for himself. Daughter Laura Bartee heard about a 16-year-old former competition horse that needed a retirement home and jumped at the opportunity to help her father.
The horse was Salvador, a 17.2 hands Dutch Warmblood whose show name was “Heritage.” Born in 1995 in the Netherlands, Salvador started his show career at the age of four with owner Laura Scaletti and worked his way up to top competitions such as Washington International Horse Show, Devon Horse Show, and the Kentucky Horse Park in the working hunters division at 4 feet with professional rider Winn Alden. In 2009, he was fifth in the nation in his division.
Master of Public Health capstone projects address One Health challenges
For the second year, graduating students in the Master of Public Health (MPH) program at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine competed for four seminar presentation spots to share their capstone project work. The 2017 graduating cohort, comprised of 35 students, was the program’s largest yet.
The capstone project showcases the achievements of the program’s soon-to-be graduates and demonstrates student competence in the program’s interdisciplinary One Health approach, which emphasizes the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health and the interdisciplinary efforts of medical, veterinary, environmental health, and public health professionals to protect, promote, and improve health. MPH students submitted 250-word abstracts of their research and a faculty committee selected the four winners: Julia Sherry, Owen Strom, Sara Taetzsch, and Mary Gallagher.
Two of the students — Sherry and Strom — researched water infrastructure and its impact on national and global health while the other two — Taetzsch and Gallagher — looked at public health implications in Richmond, Virginia, and the New River Valley. Susan West Marmagas, MPH program director, said, “These four students, and their MPH capstone projects, represent the best of our One Health-focused MPH program grounded in our mission to train public health leaders to address health challenges in Appalachia, the Commonwealth of Virginia, the nation, and around the globe.”
Career transition workshop available to veterinarians exploring career alternatives
The Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine, a part of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, will present a career transition workshop for veterinarians on June 19-20 in Ocean City, Maryland.
The one-and-a-half-day workshop is available to graduate veterinarians in all professional career stages wishing to explore career alternatives and the process of career transition. Workshop topics include career opportunities and assessment, resume building and interviewing, professional networking, job searching, and training/education. The workshop will feature invited speakers from federal and state government, industry, and AVMA Congressional Fellows.
The workshop will be conducted at the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association’s Annual Summer Conference in Ocean City as one of the conference tracks. Registration is also available for those who wish to attend the workshop only.
New website launched for Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center
Members of the college advancement team in the Office of Public Relations and Communications have launched a new website for the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center. The site features an appealing new visual design with updated EMC branding standards, user-centric site architecture, and revised content focused on the center’s strengths and excellence.
In addition, hosting of the EMC website has transitioned from the college web server to Virginia Tech’s new Ensemble content management system (CMS), powered by Adobe Experience Manager. The CMS allows non-technical staff to maintain the website content and streamlines content and server maintenance procedures.“The completion of this project builds on the steady progress the EMC has made on its New Horizons initiatives and achieves a major goal in the marketing area of its operational plan,” said Cyril Clarke, dean of the college. “The center’s website and digital presence will play an important role in elevating the visibility and reputation of the EMC, increasing the hospital caseload, and supporting the center’s fundraising campaign goals.”
Southgate Drive construction to cause traffic disruptions
Construction along Southgate Drive and Duck Pond Drive will cause traffic disruptions for visitors to the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine and its Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Blacksburg.
Southgate Drive will be closed between Route 460 and Beamer Way beginning Tuesday, May 30 through Monday, June 12. During this time, the road will be closed 24 hours a day to complete the necessary work for the tie-in to the new Southgate Drive and existing Duck Pond Drive. Motorists are encouraged to utilize alternative routes during this time period. In addition, the Town of Blacksburg plans to close Southgate Drive from June 1-30 from Sterrett Drive to Edgewood Lane for repairs to the Huckleberry Bridge.
The veterinary college is working to notify hospital clients and other visitors about road closures, traffic delays, and congestion throughout the summer.
Around the College
Awards & Activities
Susan West Marmagas named director of Master of Public Health program
Susan West Marmagas of Blacksburg, Virginia, has been named director of the Master of Public Health (MPH) program in the Department of Population Health Sciences at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech.
Grounded in a One Health approach, the MPH program emphasizes the dynamic interdependence of human, animal, and environmental health while training students in disease control and prevention and in the wider promotion, enhancement, and maintenance of health. The program, delivered in partnership with the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine (VTCSOM), was awarded full accreditation at its initial review in 2013 by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). It is the first accredited MPH program in a veterinary college in the United States. Students who participate in the 42-credit hour program can choose either an infectious disease or a public health education focus.
“We are fortunate to have a leader with Professor Marmagas’ experience, passion, and dedication to both public health practice and student learning,” said Laura Hungerford, head of the Department of Population Health Sciences, in making the appointment. “As we prepare for CEPH’s next cycle of review, her knowledge of the program and her experience reviewing other universities for CEPH, give her unmatchable insight in guiding our faculty to plan the future of our MPH.”
Marmagas, a native of Blacksburg, earned her bachelor’s degree in international studies from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana and her MPH degree, with a concentration in community health education, from the University of California at Berkeley. She has over 20 years of experience in the national public health field, with a strong focus on engaging health professionals and scientists in proactive public policy, facilitating strategic planning discussions across the health field, and implementing evidence-based policy campaigns.
Larry Freeman honored with emeritus status
Larry Freeman, associate professor of biomedical sciences and pathobiology at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, has been conferred the title of associate professor emeritus by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.
A member of the university community since 1978, Freeman was instrumental in the design and establishment of the body systems block course curriculum at the time of the founding of the veterinary college. He also established and contributed to the development of an extensive collection of domestic and wild/exotic anatomical specimens still used in the teaching program.
Freeman taught a variety of graduate courses ranging across the doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) curriculum as well as teaching undergraduate and graduate courses for clinical residents. Throughout his 38-year career, he taught anatomy to every DVM class at the veterinary college.
Jeremy Ridenour named May Staff Member of the Month
Jeremy Ridenour, large animal clinical supervisor in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, is the May Staff Member of the Month. Since joining the veterinary college in 2010, Ridenour has been consistently exceptional in all capacities. As a large animal overnight technician, Ridenour cared deeply for all of his patients and was a proactive problem solver, according to one nominator. Now as the large animal clinical supervisor, Ridenour has continued to be extremely helpful and has kept up “the excellent work,” including assisting with student labs and set-up.
In addition to his duties at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Ridenour was instrumental in assisting students facilitate an excellent Open House and in helping with the organization, set-up, and clean-up of various events for the American Association of Equine Practitioners. Another nominator explained how Ridenour “went so far above and beyond” in this area and deserves recognition for his hard work.
More Awards & Activities
Three veterinary college employees — Heather Parrish, Brian Huddleston, and Kelli Hall-Manning — were involved in the planning of the Virginia Tech McComas Staff Leadership Seminar this year. Parrish and Huddleston served on the planning committee, while Hall-Manning served on the committee in the early stages and gathered door prizes for the April 26 event. The Virginia Tech Staff Senate began sponsoring the Annual James D. McComas Staff Leadership Seminar in 2004 in honor of Virginia Tech’s 13th president who was known for being supportive of staff development and encouraging staff inclusion in university governance. This year’s conference had a “Servant Leadership” theme and included remarks from Thanassis Rikakis, Wanda Hankins Dean, Patty Perillo, Siddhartha Roy, Megan Seibel, and Buzz Williams.
Virginia Tech recently recognized three employees at the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center for their years of service:
- Sara Lundy, veterinary service technician (anesthesia), for 10 years
- Elaine Meilahn, equine specialist, for 10 years
- Patrick Wolak, manager of operations and hospital support services, for 10 years
Manogaran G, Lopez D, Thota C, Abbas KM, Pyne S, Sundarsekar R. “Big Data Analytics in Healthcare Internet of Things.” In Innovative Health Systems for the 21st Century; Qudrat-Ullah H, Tsasis P (Eds.), Ch. 10, pp. 263-284, Springer, 2017. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-55774-8_10
S. Ansar Ahmed, associate dean for research and graduate studies, received renewed funding from the National Institutes of Health and Boehringer Ingelheim for the Summer Veterinary Student Research Program. This is the veterinary college’s second five-year successful renewal of the National Institutes of Health Funding, which totals $228,765, and the tenth year of grant funding from Merial to support the 11-week program. Grant funding covers veterinary student expenses for conducting biomedical research with a faculty member and participating in weekly seminars on careers in veterinary research. Since its inception, the program has provided summer research training for more than 95 DVM students. More information about this year’s veterinary students in the program will be available in a future issue of Vital Signs.
Gregory Daniel, professor and head of the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, gave a presentation on “Radiographic Interpretation” at the Southwest Virginia VMA in Christiansburg, Virginia on April 20.
Nick Dervisis et al. “Geographical differences in survival of dogs with non-Hodgkin lymphoma treated with a CHOP based chemotherapy protocol.” Veterinary & Comparative Oncology 2017; 1-8. DOI: 10.1111/vco.12302.
Dorratoltaj N, Marathe A, Lewis BL, Swarup S, Eubank SG, Abbas KM. “Epidemiological and Economic Impact of Pandemic Influenza in Chicago: Priorities for Vaccine Interventions.” PLOS Computational Biology, 13(6): e1005521, 2017. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005521 (In press; June 1, 2017)
Julia Gohlke, assistant professor of environmental health in the Department of Population Health Sciences, received a provisional appointment as a member of the Committee on the Evaluation of the Use of Chemical Dispersants in Oil Spill Response.
LH. Krometis, JM Gohlke, K. Kolivras, E. Satterwhite, SW Marmagas, L. Marr. (2017). “Environmental Health Disparities in the Central Appalachian Region of the United States.” Reviews in Environmental Health. Accepted.
Swarup S, JM Gohlke, JR Bohland. (2017). “A microsimulation model of population heat exposure.” Conference Proceedings of the 2nd International Workshop on Agent-based modelling of urban systems (ABMUS), São Paulo, Brazil, May 2017.
Richard Huneke (DVM ’84), professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and executive director of University Laboratory Animal Resources at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was invited to present and participate in a round table discussion at the IV Brazilian Congress of Bioethics and Animal Well-Being organized by the Federal Council of Veterinary Medicine in Porto Alegre, Brazil on April 18-20. His presentation on “Strategies and Approaches for Welfare Advances in Laboratory Animals” reviewed the 3-Rs of ethical animal research – Replacement, Reduction and Refinement. Huneke is boarded by the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine and serves as a council member for AAALAC, the nonprofit organization that promotes the humane treatment of animals in science through voluntary accreditation and assessment programs.
Kang GJ, Ewing-Nelson SR, Mackey L, Schlitt JT, Marathe A, Abbas KM, Swarup S. “Semantic Network Analysis of Vaccine Sentiment in Online Social Media.” Vaccine. (In press)
Giulio Menciotti, Michele Borgarelli, Michael Aherne, Sonya Wesselowski, Sunshine Lahmers, Jonathan Abbott, et al. “Mitral valve morphology assessed by three-dimensional transthoracic echocardiography in healthy dogs and dogs with myxomatous mitral valve disease.” Journal of Veterinary Cardiology (2017) 19, 113-123.
Dorratoltaj N, O’Dell ML, Bordwine P, Kerkering TM, Redican KJ, Abbas KM.” Epidemiological Effectiveness and Cost of Fungal Meningitis Outbreak Response in New River Valley: Local Health Department and Clinical Perspectives.” Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, 2017. DOI: 10.1017/dmp.2017.32 (In press)
Theresa Pancotto et al. “Evaluation of Magnetic Resonance Imaging for the Differentiation of Inflammatory, Neoplastic, and Vascular Intradural Spinal Cord Diseases in the Dog.” Veterinary Radiology & Ultrasound Journal, Article DOI: 10.1111/vru.12501.
Theresa Pancotto and John Rossmeisl. “A case of stiff dog syndrome associated with anti-glutamic acid decarboxylase antibodies.” Journal of Clinical Movement Disorders (2017) 4:5.
Anthony Pease (DVM ’99) accepted the position of Western Veterinary Conference’s Chief Veterinary Medical Officer this month. Pease has worked at Michigan State University since 2008 and is currently a tenured associate professor in the small animal and large animal clinical sciences department since 2014.
Valerie Ragan, director of the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine, has received notification that she has been awarded the American Veterinary Medical Association’s 2017 Public Service Award. She will receive the recognition at the AVMA 2017 Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, on July 21-25. More information will be available after the awards ceremony.
Valerie Ragan traveled to Armenia to do an evaluation of current human and animal brucellosis surveillance systems, as a first step towards creating an integrated One Health surveillance system for brucellosis for Armenia. This work is being conducted as part of a project funded by the Department of Defense. Ragan also traveled to Washington, D.C. to be interviewed by George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, for a module in a course on Population Community Health Analytics. The focus of the module is “One Health – Engaging in a Multidisciplinary Approach,” and
Ragan discussed real world One Health approaches to brucellosis in the international community.
Cassidy Rist, assistant professor in the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine, was accepted to the Network for Evaluation of One Health, a European organization that aims to enable future quantitative evaluations of One Health activities and to further the evidence base by developing and applying a science-based evaluation protocol in a community of experts.
John Rossmeisl, Jamie King, et al. “Expression and activity of the urokinase plasminogen activator system in canine primary brain tumors.” OncoTargets and Therapy. 2017:10 2077-2085.
John Rossmeisl and Susan Blades Golubovic. “Status epilepticus in dogs and cats, part 1: etiopathogenesis, epidemiology, and diagnosis.” in Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, doi:10.1111/vec.12605.
John Rossmeisl and Susan Blades Golubovic. “Status epilepticus in dogs and cats, part 2: treatment, monitoring, and prognosis.” Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, doi:10.1111/vec.12604.
Jeffrey Ruth, John Rossmeisl, et al. “An easy to produce and economical three-dimensional brain phantom for stereotactic computed tomographic-guided brain biopsy training in the dog.” Veterinary Surgery. 2017;1-10.
Zana Shabani (MPH ’17), won first place for the Lancet Award (Non-Communicable Diseases and Social Determinants of Health Track) for her capstone poster on “Evaluation of Self-Medication with Antibiotics in Kosovo” at the Consortium of Universities for Global Health Conference in Washington, D.C. on April 6-9. Shabani, who was a practicing pharmacist in Kosovo and received USAID funding to complete her MPH degree with a public health education concentration, was selected as one of 18 poster finalists from over 50 countries before winning top honors. In addition to a certificate and a cash prize, her abstract will also be published.
YH (Connor) Wu, BF Zaitchik, A Scott, and JM Gohlke. 2017. “The association between heat waves and preterm birth using address-level versus ZIP code-level data.” American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting on April 4, 2017.
- June 18-20 – MVMA Summer Conference
- Ocean City, MD
- June 19-20 – CPCVM's Career Transition Workshop
- Ocean City, MD
- July 21-25 – American Veterinary Medical Association Convention
- Indianapolis, IN
- August 25 – DVM Class of 2021 White Coat Ceremony
- VA-MD Vet Med, Blacksburg, VA
- August 26 – Welcome picnic and tubing with the DVM Class of 2021
- New River Junction, Blacksburg, VA
- September 3 – Virginia Tech vs. West Virginia pre-game tailgate sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health (RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Fed Ex Field, Hyattsville, MD
- September 15-16 – Alumni reunions for Classes of ’87, ’92, ’97, ’02, ’07, and ’12
- Blacksburg, VA
- October 5-6 – Mentor Workshop
- Blacksburg, VA
For More Upcoming Events…
Vital Signs is published throughout the year by the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.
- Dean: Cyril R. Clarke
- Assistant Dean for Advancement: Alison Wainwright Davitt
- Managing Editor: Michael Sutphin
- Web Editor: Alison Elward
- Assistant Editor: Kelsey Foster
- Contributors: Alison Elward, Kelsey Foster, Sharon Peart, Michael Sutphin
- Photography/Videography: Coy Allen, Alison Elward, Matt Gentry (Roanoke Times), Nikolai Kolupaev, J. Scott Parker, Megan Quesenberry, Michael Sutphin, Michelle Turek, Nat White