Athens, Ga. – Dr. Susan White, professor emerita at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, was recently awarded the Robert W. Kirk Award for Professional Excellence at the 2009 American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Forum in Montreal, Canada. The Kirk Award is given annually to a member of the ACVIM and is presented in recognition of outstanding achievements and dedicated service to the veterinary profession.
White is the first female in the field of large animal medicine to be given this honor. The criteria for the award include outstanding service, national and international recognition, selfless contribution to veterinary organizations, publication of major works, and development of diagnostic or therapeutic techniques. White has a distinguished record of more than 28 years of service with regional and national organizations, including serving on and chairing numerous committees and task forces for the American Association of Equine Practitioners and the ACVIM, as well as serving on the editorial boards for the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, the Journal of Equine Practice, and the Journal of Equine Veterinary Education.
White came to the College of Veterinary Medicine in 1976 as a large animal internal medicine resident. During her tenure she was the recipient of multiple awards, including the Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professorship from UGA and the J.T. Mercer Lifetime Achievement Award from the Georgia Veterinary Medical Association.
More than one of White’s colleagues in the College of Veterinary Medicine referred to her knowledge as “encyclopedic.” Dr. Andrew Parks, professor and head of the department of large animal medicine, has worked alongside White for 20 years and described her as “a wise and respected resource” for students and colleagues, both within and outside of the university.
According to Parks, she is a “passionate person who puts tons of energy into all she does.” During her career, White taught more than 3,000 veterinary students, 40 interns and 20 internal medicine residents.
White’s research on prevention of heat exhaustion during equine competitions is one of her most notable accomplishments. “We studied over one thousand horses during competition,” White said. “Our research mushroomed into more than 100 research papers, with more than 30 investigators creating an unprecedented body of knowledge. We studied areas of the horse that were never studied before.”
Partly as a result of this research, the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta were relatively free of equine injuries, according to White. “By being proactive we avoided nearly 100 percent of the problems, and our research on recovery time is still being utilized in events today,” she said.
Just as the results of her research shape modern equine policy, White remains a proactive force in the veterinary community. She continues to serve as a mentor to junior faculty members in the veterinary college’s department of large animal medicine. “Her role as a mentor is invaluable in the department,” Parks said.
Since its inception, the Kirk Award has been presented to three other UGA College of Veterinary Medicine faculty members or alumni: Drs. John Oliver, Delmar Finco, and Joe Kornegay.
The mission of the ACVIM is to enhance animal and human health by advancing veterinary internal medicine through training, education, and discovery.