Campus News Science & Technology

Phi Zeta honors awarded to faculty, students in UGA College of Veterinary Medicine

Phi Zeta vet med

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine recently recognized outstanding faculty and students with honors for excellence in teaching, research and service at its annual Phi Zeta Veterinary Honor Society Induction Ceremony.

The Zoetis Award for Excellence in Research was awarded to Biao He, a professor of infectious diseases who collaborates with many faculty members throughout the college to develop and test vaccine therapeutics. He has published nearly 25 scientific papers, multiple in prestigious journals, since his arrival at the college in 2009.

“Dr. He’s work is at the forefront of viral research and is expanding into vaccine development for a number of human, animal and zoonotic viral and non-viral pathogens,” said Fred D. Quinn, head of the department of infectious diseases, in a letter of nomination. “I consider him to be an outstanding teacher, researcher, scholar and colleague. He is very knowledgeable and skilled in molecular biology, virology and vaccine development. As such, he is in a unique position to productively explore the areas where these fields overlap and contribute in a very meaningful way to the rapidly expanding vaccine development group in the CVM.”

The Clinical Research Award was presented to Amanda Erickson Coleman, an assistant professor of cardiology in the department of small animal medicine and surgery. Her research focuses on pharmacologic interventions targeting the renin-antiotensin-aldosterone system, which regulates blood pressure and fluid balance, in dogs, cats and horses.

“These are chronic conditions that affect many companion animals, and treatment with current drugs is imperfect,” noted her department head, Spencer A. Johnston, in a letter of nomination. “By identifying better agents for therapy, the quality of life of companion animals and their owners can be improved.”

The John M. Bowen Award for Excellence in Animal/Biomedical Research was presented to Brian Jordan, an assistant professor in the departments of population health and poultry science in the Colleges of Veterinary Medicine and Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, respectively. Jordan joined the Poultry Diagnostic and Research Center upon completion of his doctorate. In three years, he has built a solid and productive research program, supported by more than $480,000 in extramural funding. He has authored or co-authored seven peer-reviewed journal articles and has published 16 abstracts at national and international meetings. His research focuses on bridging the gap between the poultry house environment and infectious diseases, currently in the key areas of understanding and control of avian coronavirus infectious bronchitis and in determining that coronaviruses are not as prevalent in wild birds in the U.S. as they are in other parts of the world.

The Charles Dobbins Award for Excellence in Service was awarded to John Fischer, a professor of wildlife diseases and director of the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study. Fischer was selected for his outstanding leadership of SCWDS since 2000 and for his overall service to the wildlife community. SCWDS assists 18 states and federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Geological Survey, with wildlife disease identification, management and surveillance. Fischer’s service to the community includes serving as chair of the U.S. Animal Health Association Committee on Wildlife Diseases from 2004 to 2009 and serving on the board of directors of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies since 1999. In addition, SCWDS publishes a quarterly newsletter that currently has more than 2,000 subscribers in the wildlife community.

The Outstanding Laboratory Service Award was presented to Melinda Camus, an assistant professor of clinical pathology who helped ensure the clinical pathology service remained fully functional during an intense 14-week period when she was the only faculty member on the service. Camus single-handedly oversaw the service while also teaching senior students every morning during rotations. She routinely worked 10 or more hours per day, seven days per week.

“She has a character that just takes every problem as it comes and finds an answer that is palatable to all,” said Keith Harris, head of the department of pathology. “Even with her frenetic schedule, her demeanor never changed.”

Camus also received the David Tyler Award for Advances in Teaching for implementing new teaching techniques for microscopy in her Clinical Pathology course. She organized the digitization of more than 200 hematologic and cytologic samples and worked with technical staff at Leica and the college’s Internet technology support staff to make the slides available to students on their electronic devices. The change enhanced the learning experiences of the students and also lowered course teaching costs.

The Outstanding Hospital Service Award was presented to Ira Roth, a clinical assistant professor and director of the UGA Community Practice Clinic.

“Dr. Roth’s enjoyment of his job is obvious in the gentle and affectionate way in which he interacts with his patients,” noted one of many nominators. “Time and again, aggressive or nervous animals calm down in his presence and animals that have been too nervous to even accept treats from other staff members will readily respond to him. Clients are similarly charmed by his friendly personality, and many clients remark that they make return trips to the Community Practice Clinic specifically because they appreciate his interest in them as clients and the care that he gives their pets.”

The Morrow B. Thompson Award was presented to Chien-Tsun Huang. Huang is completing her residency in clinical pathology and finished her doctorate, which focused on the rabies virus, this past December. The award is presented annually to a senior student, resident or graduate student who excels in veterinary clinical pathology, and is given in memory of Morrow B. Thompson.

The Dennis Sikes Scholarship in Experimental Pathology was awarded to Annie Page-Karjian for her work with sea turtles. Page-Karjian is currently completing her doctorate in pathology. This award is presented to a pathology graduate student who excels in research of disease processes, also known as experimental or investigative pathology. It is given in memory of Dennis “Chock” Sikes, a research professor and veterinarian biologist at UGA who was the first Georgian to receive the Royal Society Award. He was a consultant pathologist for the Atomic Energy Commission.

Jennifer Velasco received the Outstanding Sophomore Student Award for having the highest cumulative grade point average and outstanding professionalism in the second-year class. As part of her award, Velasco will serve as vice president on the Phi Zeta board for one year.

Eight students, who were nominated by their peers, were recognized for their leadership, service and outreach in the community, their place of worship, the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine, student clubs or veterinary fraternities. The following students received the Bruce Hollett Student Leadership, Service and Outreach Award: Katie Griner and Tucker Avra, from the Class of 2015; Cody Mannino and Adriana Weil, from the Class of 2016; Sara Collins and Samantha Williams Roberts, from the Class of 2017; and, Matthew Bradley and Ashlynn Turner, from the Class of 2018.

New student inductees into the Phi Zeta Honorary Society included Tucker Avra, Arielle Damm, Julianne Felton, Marion Floyd, Debra Gohr, Heidi Gordon, Emily Hadaway, Kristen Hamsley, Matthew Jenerette, Tiffany Jenkins, Jennifer Safko, Kaylan Stone, Emily Underwood, Amanda Walton and Nicole Woller, from the Class of 2015; Bradley Buckallew, Megan Caudill, Elizabeth Crabtree, Christina Handford, Katherine Larson, Katy Mayhew, Haley Olsen, Scott Robustelli and Brittney Uhland, from the Class of 2016.

Six residents/graduate students were inducted: Lorelei Clarke, who is doing a combined residency-Ph.D. program, with a residency in anatomic pathology and Ph.D. in veterinary pathology; Elizabeth Elsmo, a resident in anatomic pathology with a focus on wildlife; Susan Fogelson, who is also doing the combined residency-Ph.D. program, with her residency in anatomic pathology and her Ph.D. in veterinary pathology with a focus in aquatic animal pathology; Stivalis Cardenas Garcia, a Ph.D. student in the department of pathology; Chien-Tsun Huang and Annie Page-Karjian, who is completing her Ph.D. in veterinary pathology.

Daniel Rissi, a clinical assistant professor of pathology, was also inducted into Phi Zeta.

Honorary inductees this year were Frederick D. Quinn, head of the department of infectious diseases and the Athletic Association Professor of Infectious Diseases, and Eric R. LaFontaine, an associate professor of infectious diseases.

Winners of the Phi Zeta Manuscript Competition were Tiago Afonso, a resident in large animal internal medicine, and Qingqing “Connie” Chai; both Afonso and Chai are also Ph.D. candidates in the college’s Veterinary Biomedical Sciences program. Afonso’s manuscript, which was published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine in 2013 (27:1185-1192), was titled “Pharmacodynamic Evaluation of 4 Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors in Healthy Adult Horses.” Chai’s manuscript on “Enhancement of Blood-brain Barrier Permeability and Reduction of Tight Junction Protein Expression Are Modulated by Chemokines/Cytokines induced by Rabies Virus Infection,” was published in the Journal of Virology in 2014 (88:4698-4710).

The keynote speaker for Phi Zeta Day was Ian Copland, an assistant professor of hematology and medical oncology and pediatrics, and manager of the Emory Personalized Immunotherapy Center at the Emory University School of Medicine. Copland’s talk was on “Aligning Development and Clinical Practice of Regenerative Medicine to Benefit Human and Veterinary Patients.”

The Phi Zeta Veterinary Honor Society was formally established in 1925 at Cornell University for the advancement of the veterinary profession, for higher educational requirements and for high scholarship. Phi Zeta recognizes and promotes scholarship and research in matters pertaining to the welfare and diseases of animals.

There are 27 chapters of Phi Zeta throughout the U.S. The Xi chapter of Phi Zeta was established in 1959 at UGA.

College of Veterinary Medicine
The UGA College of Veterinary Medicine, founded in 1946, is dedicated to training future veterinarians, conducting research related to animal and human diseases and providing veterinary services for animals and their owners. Research efforts are aimed at enhancing the quality of life for animals and people, improving the productivity of poultry and livestock and preserving a healthy interface between wildlife and people in the environment they share. The college enrolls 114 students each fall out of more than 900 who apply. For more information, see