Vital Signs: October 2016 Vol. 5, Issue 10

A message from Dean Cyril Clarke

Alumni engagement

Dear friends and colleagues,

Our alumni play a critical role in supporting our college missions and in shaping our future. Their success reflects on the college and our programs, and they are the tangible representation of our primary responsibility of educating the next generations of veterinarians, biomedical scientists, and public health specialists.

Recently, the college welcomed the Alumni Society Board of Directors and the Alumni Council to Blacksburg. The Alumni Society is an affiliate of both the Virginia Tech and University of Maryland alumni associations and helps to foster goodwill between veterinary alumni and the college, encourage private giving, and promote activities and programs for alumni. The newly reorganized Alumni Council, which consists of representatives from each graduating DVM class, supports the mission of the Society by facilitating communications, encouraging active alumni engagement, and organizing class fundraising projects and reunions.

These meetings coincided with the annual mentor workshop sponsored by the Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia veterinary medical associations. Through this program, our alumni and other veterinarians in the region provide valuable guidance to students in many of the non-technical skills, knowledge, attitudes, and aptitudes necessary to navigate productive professional careers. In addition to supporting our students, veterinary alumni participating in the program are provided with an opportunity to give back to their alma mater.

When students arrive at the college, they not only begin a veterinary professional, graduate, or public health education, they also become members of an exceptional community of alumni that will add value throughout their careers. Our alumni understand this and are giving back to the college with their time, talents, and treasure. The expanded college footprint, the innovative programs and research, and the success that the college enjoys today is in large part due to alumni support. Alumni are our advocates, advisors, and leaders, and they support students through mentoring, much-need scholarship funding, and activities that help the college provide our students with a robust educational experience that goes beyond the classroom.

Alumni have provided the foundation that has allowed the college to grow and thrive. Without them, our degree programs would not be as strong, our community would not be as vibrant, and our students would not have as many resources and connections as they do today. We value our alumni and are constantly looking for ways to improve our communication and interaction with them to further our mission and strengthen the community for the benefit of both current and future alumni.

Dr. Cyril Clarke, Dean


Featured Stories

New, high-definition CT scanner at EMC
James Brown, clinical assistant professor of equine surgery, guides a horse into the new Pegaso High-Definition CT scanner at the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, Virginia.

New, high-definition CT scanner arrives at Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center

New technology at Virginia Tech’s Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center (EMC) in Leesburg, Virginia, is offering enhanced imaging capabilities for equine patients.

The Pegaso High-Definition CT, which is the first of its kind on the East Coast, allows veterinarians and staff at the center to perform high-definition CT scans on horses while standing or recumbent.

“We are very excited to offer this advanced technology for safer and clearer diagnoses of our equine patients,” said Mike Erskine, EMC director. The EMC is a part of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.

Read more about the new Pegaso High-Definition CT, and watch a video of it in use.


8-year-old Lhasa apso Millie Harman
Millie, an 8-year-old Lhasa apso, showed signs of significant recovery during a follow-up exam with her surgeon and neurologist Theresa Pancotto (right) and neurology technician Maureen Sroufe (left).

Millie Harman walks again after disc repair at Veterinary Teaching Hospital

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.”

On Mother’s Day, Millie, an 8-year-old Lhasa apso, was on the arm of the sofa where she routinely perched to gaze out the window, Harman explained. “She fell asleep and fell from her perch…and the fall caused disc damage in the cervical area of her spinal cord.” When Harman got to her, Millie was completely paralyzed in all four limbs.

Harman immediately rushed Millie to her local veterinarian, Deidre Crutchfield at the Veterinary Associates of Princeton and the Bluefields in Bluefield, West Virginia, who then in turn referred Millie to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. “Establishing trust between [a referring veterinarian and a specialist] helps facilitate prompt and emergency care when needed,” explained Theresa Pancotto, clinical assistant professor of neurology in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences and Millie’s surgeon. “It also improves overall patient care when we can work as a team and bring wellness care and disease care together for the best treatment of the patient.”

Read more about Millie Harman’s success story.

Cindy Ingram with Distinguished Service Award
Cindy Ingram, who is an avid dressage rider, has served on the Advisory Council's Executive Committee and as a volunteer business advisor for the center.

Equine Medical Center honors Cindy Ingram with Distinguished Service Award

Virginia Tech’s Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center (EMC) recently recognized Cindy Ingram of McLean, Virginia, with its Distinguished Service Award.

The award is the highest honor at the EMC, which is located in Leesburg, Virginia. Ingram, who has been an active member of the EMC Advisory Council since 2001 and previously served as co-chair of Virginia Tech’s Women in Leadership and Philanthropy Council, is the fourth recipient.

“Her leadership on the council has continually focused on having the EMC reach financial success while maintaining the academic culture that has been responsible for EMC’s excellent reputation,” said Nathaniel White, professor emeritus of equine surgery, at the award presentation. “Her dedication and active participation provides encouragement for faculty and staff to preserve a standard of excellence and to find solutions to make their own success.”

A native of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan and alumna of Michigan State University, Ingram spent 25 years as a sales and marketing executive for IBM in Detroit, Michigan and Washington, D.C. After leaving IBM, Ingram decided to direct her energies toward a nonprofit organization focused on one of her personal interests. Ingram, a dedicated horse owner, met Shelley Duke, then a member of Virginia Tech’s Board of Visitors, and decided to join Duke on the EMC Advisory Council.

Mark Freeman releasing a hawk
Mark Freeman from the college's Small Animal Community Practice releases a red-tailed hawk on campus.

Rescued hawk rehabilitated and released on campus

Following nearly 10 weeks of medical care and rehabilitation, a red-tailed hawk rescued and brought to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital was released back into the wild in early October.

Mark Freeman, assistant professor of community practice in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, first treated the bird when it came to the college’s Small Animal Community Practice on July 8. It was transferred to the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center of Roanoke for additional medical care before being sent to the Virginia Wildlife Center in Waynesboro for rehabilitation.

The release took place behind the Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center, near the Virginia Tech golf course.

View more photos and watch a video of the hawk release. Also, check out the Roanoke Times coverage of the hawk release.

Mentor workshop
During the mentor workshop, more than 60 veterinarians connected with veterinary students at the college.

Veterinary students, practitioners connect at mentor workshop

The veterinary college once again teamed up with the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association, Maryland Veterinary Medical Association, and the West Virginia Veterinary Medical Association for the annual mentor workshop on Oct. 13-14.

The workshop brought more than 60 veterinarians to the college representing a wide variety of private and public practices, industry, and academia. More than 200 students were paired with mentors based on area of interest and location. The mentor workshop, which was one of the first successful such programs in the country, has been a model for similar programs in other states.

View more photos from the 2016 mentor workshop.

Alumni Corner

Herb Yee and his wife, Chris, have owned a horse farm in Maryland since 2003.

From veteran to veterinarian, alumnus Herb Yee (DVM ’10) follows his passion

A Los Angeles native with a decorated military career, Herb Yee’s entrance into veterinary school was not the traditional path most students take to become a veterinarian.

When he was a small child, Yee always wanted to be a pilot. His was accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1982. Yee selected naval aviation as his career path and earned his wings as a navigator in 1983. He was assigned to a P-3 patrol squadron and stationed at Moffett Field in northern California in 1984.

It was at this time that he purchased a couple of horses for pleasure riding. They stayed with him and his wife, Chris, wherever they moved in the continental United States. Herb’s jobs were diverse and involved much travel throughout his time in the Navy. He deployed to the western Pacific and participated in maritime surveillance missions, which included hunting Russian submarines and monitoring commercial shipping activity at sea.

Read more about Herb Yee’s military and veterinary experience.

Around the College

Alumni Society Board and Alumni Council meet in Blacksburg

This month, members of the Alumni Society Board and the Alumni Council visited the veterinary college in Blacksburg. During the Alumni Society meeting, Maureen Noftsinger (DVM ’01) was recognized for her service as Alumni Society president. Notfsinger also formally passed the gavel over to the new president, Lisa Carter (DVM ’87). Meanwhile, the Alumni Council, which includes representatives from each graduating class, learned about the advancement model at the college and the council’s involvement with keeping in touch with classmates to encourage active alumni engagement, serving as a liaison for planning reunions and other events, organizing class fundraising projects, and assisting with recruiting and providing clerkships for students.

Equine Medical Center hosts Open House in Leesburg

The Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, Virginia hosted an Open House on Sunday, Oct. 23 for clients. The event, which included a complimentary barbeque lunch and tours of the equine hospital, also featured presentations from M. Norris Adams, clinical assistant professor of equine surgery and lameness; Jennifer Barrett, professor of equine surgery; and Michael Erskine, EMC director.

Sir Ian Wilmut discusses legacy with Dolly the sheep at Lyric Theatre

Sir Ian Wilmut, the embryologist who in 1996 led the team that cloned the first mammal using an adult cell, spoke at The Lyric Theatre in Blacksburg on Oct. 6. Wilmut, who is chair of the Scottish Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, presented “The Dolly Experiment: The First 20 Years.” Before the talk, Will Eyestone, research associate professor of reproductive biology in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, introduced Wilmut and the legacy of his breakthrough. In addition to the veterinary college, the event was sponsored by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Program in Regenerative Medicine, and the Department of Science and Technology and Society. Read the Collegiate Times coverage of the event.

Local pet owners support first-year class at dog wash

Veterinary students held a Community Dog Wash at the veterinary college on Oct. 1. Presented by the DVM Classes of 2019 and 2020 and the Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Association, the semi-annual event attracted community members and their dogs of all shapes and sizes.

Kids learn about regenerative medicine at Virginia Tech Science Festival

The third annual Virginia Tech Science Festival at the Moss Arts Center featured hands-on experiences, live performances, interactive demonstrations, and family-oriented science entertainment on a variety of science-related topics. The veterinary college’s regenerative medicine faculty and graduate students participated in the festival with a booth to educate kids about the possibilities of biomedical research.

Dean Cyril Clarke participates in #VTUnfinished session

Cyril Clarke, dean of the veterinary college, shared an experience at the first #VTUnfinished event at War Memorial Chapel on Oct. 18. The event was a part of a series of community conversations designed to provide students, faculty, staff, and all members of the community an opportunity to share and listen to experiences, stories, questions, and apprehensions about the complicated issues of identity and difference. This follows the university’s Sept. 30 State of the University event, in which President Tim Sands challenged the Virginia Tech community to move “beyond commitment to action” on inclusion and diversity. Learn more about #VTUnfinished.

Awards & Activities

Tami Quesenberry and Dean Cyril Clarke

Tami Quesenberry named October Staff Member of the Month

As a community practice veterinary technician in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Tami Quesenberry has to be able to adapt to working with students, interns, veterinarians, and patients. Her nominator described how Quesenberry has an “exceptional work ethic... She does an excellent job teaching students how to be diligent with anesthesia protocols and monitoring...[and] she is compassionate and provides superior patient care to our patients.”

Since joining the VTH in 2006, Quesenberry has also worked hard to learn new skills and advance her training when necessary. She recently completed ICU training and during her first shift went above and beyond to overcome challenges and exceed expectations to provide the best care possible for her patients. “She has been an asset to Community Practice,” her nominator said.

Read more about the Staff Members of the Month.

More Awards & Activities

Both the Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Blacksburg and the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg celebrated National Veterinary Technician Week, Oct. 16-22. The event celebrates veterinary technicians and their commitment to making the college’s work possible.

The Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, Virginia held a continuing education event in collaboration with Equinosis, a company which produces an inertial sensor-based system which is used as an objective diagnostic aid in the evaluation of equine lameness. The day-long series of lectures and demonstrations on the Equinosis Q with Lameness Locator was presented by Kevin Keegan from the University of Missouri and Laurie Tyrrell, director of objective evaluation support at Equinosis. Participants learned how to properly instrument inertial sensors and how to perform live data collection to subjectively assess a variety of horses worked in a straight line, lunged, and under saddle. The system provides visual analysis via real-time data collection to enable veterinarians to identify even the subtlest of lameness issues.

Virginia Tech Animal Laboratory Services faculty, staff, and residents attended the 59th Annual American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD) Meeting and the Quality Assurance Symposium in Greensboro, North Carolina. Attendees were Jen Rudd, Carolyn Sink, Diamond McClendon, Caley McCoy, Michelle Todd, Sharon Hurt, Tanya LeRoith, Kevin Lahmers, Cory Hanks, and Vanessa Wallace. Also during the meeting, Hanks presented a case in the AAVLD Diagnostic Pathology Slide Seminar, and Wallace presented a poster on “Devising a disease surveillance and reporting system using Orchard Harvest LIS” with Rudd and LeRoith.

David Collins, Ph.D. student in the Department of Population Health Sciences, won Best Graduate Student Presentation for his paper entitled “Investigation of Medium Chain Fatty Acid Supplementation for Reducing Salmonella Colonization in Turkeys” given at the 88th Northeastern Conference on Avian Diseases on Sept. 28 in State College, Pennsylvania.

Giulio Menciotti, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, won the “Second Prize in the Young Investigators Research Communication” award by the European Society of Veterinary Cardiology at the European College of Veterinary Internal Medicine conference in Sweden in September.

Valerie Ragan, director of the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine, and Cassidy Rist, assistant professor in the center, participated in the joint US Animal Health Association (USAHA) and American Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD) annual conference in Greensboro, North Carolina. The center has a memorandum of agreement with the USAHA and AAVLD. It coordinated scholarships for and escorted 18 students interested in public veterinary practice from 10 veterinary colleges in the U.S. and Canada to the conference. Ragan also serves on the USAHA Brucellosis Committee and Brucellosis Scientific Subcommittee, and is the vice-chair for the Diagnostic Laboratory and Veterinary Workforce Development Committee.

Upcoming Events

November 4–6, 2016Potomac Regional Veterinary Conference
Washington, D.C.
November 10, 2016TEDxVirginiaTech
Blacksburg, VA
November 10, 2016Continuing Education Lecture: “Arthroscopy & Challenging Orthopedic Cases”
Christiansburg, VA
December 5, 2016 — Alumni Reception, American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention
Orlando, FL
December 6, 2016Continuing Education Lecture: “Salvage and Corrective Procedures for Hip Dysplasia & TTA vs TPLO - which to use?”
Bedford, VA
January 6, 2017 — 6th Annual Equine & Food Animal Conference for Veterinarians
Blacksburg, VA


Vital Signs is published throughout the year by the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.

  • Dean: Cyril R. Clarke
  • Assistant Dean for Advancement: Alison Davitt
  • Managing Editor: Michael Sutphin
  • Web Editor: Alison Elward
  • Assistant Editor: Kelsey Foster
  • Contributors: Lynn Blevins, Alison Elward, Kelsey Foster, Bill Foy, Sharon Peart, Michael Sutphin
  • Photography: Ian Atkins (Ian’s Creations), Lynn Blevins, Ali Davitt, Alison Elward, Bill Huckle, Sharon Peart, Megan Quesenberry, Carling Sitterley, Michael Sutphin, Michelle Theus, Michelle Turek (Michelle Turek Photography), Logan Wallace
Subscribe to Vital Signs!