2018 elected AAAS fellows include veterinary faculty

Published on January 30, 2019
Dr. Richt
Dr. Jurgen Richt
Dr. Holger Sondermann
Holger Sondermann, PhD
Dr. Kass
Dr. Philip H. Kass
Dr. Pessah
Isaac Pessah, PhD

Seven faculty at U.S. veterinary colleges are among 417 fellows chosen this past year by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which is the world's largest scientific society. Election as a fellow is an honor bestowed upon association members by their peers. The association's fellowship program recognizes individuals whose efforts toward advancing science applications are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished.

The 2018 fellows will be recognized at a certificate and pinning ceremony on Feb. 16 during the association's annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Jurgen Richt is a veterinary microbiologist who has worked with agents of zoonotic potential, including bovine spongiform encephalopathy, chronic wasting disease, animal influenza viruses, Rift Valley fever virus, Borna disease virus, and other emerging pathogens. Dr. Richt's career, which included a seven-year assignment as lead scientist at the Department of Agriculture's National Animal Disease Center, has been spent developing novel vaccines and testing methods and remedies for a number of animal and zoonotic diseases.

Dr. Richt joined Kansas State University in 2008 as a professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine's Department of Diagnostic Medicine and Pathobiology. He became the director of the Department of Homeland Security's Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases at KSU in 2010.

Dr. Richt received his veterinary degree in 1985 from the University of Munich and his doctorate in virology in 1988 from the University of Giessen, both in Germany.

Holger Sondermann, PhD, is professor of molecular medicine at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Sondermann's current research involves using molecular approaches to study biofilm formation and membrane biology.

Dr. Sondermann received his doctorate in biochemistry in 2001 from the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried, Germany. He completed his postdoctoral work at Rockefeller University and the University of California-Berkeley before joining the veterinary faculty at Cornell in 2005, first as an assistant professor and then as an associate professor.

Pejman Rohani, PhD, is a professor with a joint appointment at the University of Georgia in both the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Odum School of Ecology. His laboratory in the veterinary college's Department of Infectious Diseases focuses on population biology, usually of host–natural enemy interactions, with a view to understanding fundamental processes in ecology and evolution. Dr. Rohani uses a combination of mathematical modeling, data analysis, and statistical inference to understand the ecology and evolution of infectious diseases of humans and wildlife, including emerging infectious diseases.

He received his doctorate in biology in 1995 from the University of London. Dr. Rohani joined UGA in 2015 after serving on the faculty of the University of Michigan's departments of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Epidemiology from 2009-15.

Karen J.L. Burg, PhD, is professor and chair of the Department of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery at the UGA veterinary college. She is a bioengineer whose work focuses on absorbable polymers, biofabrication, and tissue engineering. Seven of her inventions have been patented, one of which is the basis of a biomedical company that builds 3D tissue models with a patient's own tumor cells. The 3D tissues are used to test treatment options and identify personalized cancer therapies.

Dr. Burg earned her master's and doctorate in bioengineering from Clemson University. She subsequently completed a postdoctoral fellowship in tissue engineering at Carolinas Medical Center. Prior to joining UGA, Dr. Burg served as vice president for research and a professor of chemical engineering at Kansas State University from 2014-16.

Dr. Philip H. Kass is chair of the Department of Population Health and Reproduction in the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. His research has centered around companion animal epidemiology, studying determinants of health and disease using statistical models. His research also covers many other aspects of companion animal health, such as studying factors affecting relinquishment and adoption at animal shelters, developing statistical approaches to conducting syndromic surveillance using electronic medical records from networked animal hospitals, and conducting epidemiologic research into causes of injection-site sarcomas in cats.

Dr. Kass received a veterinary degree in 1983, a master's of preventive veterinary medicine in 1984, a master's in statistics in 1988, and a doctorate in comparative pathology (epidemiology) in 1990—all from UC-Davis. Following completion of a postdoctoral fellowship in environmental epidemiology from the UCLA School of Public Health in 1990, he joined the UC-Davis faculty and currently holds appointments as a professor of analytic epidemiology in the veterinary and medical schools.

Isaac Pessah, PhD, is associate dean for research and graduate programs as well as professor and researcher for the Department of Molecular Biosciences in the UC-Davis veterinary school.

He received his master's in toxicology in 1981 from the University of Maryland-Baltimore and his doctorate in toxicology in 1983 from the University of Maryland-College Park.

His research focuses on molecular and cellular mechanisms regulating cellular Ca2+ signaling; the structure, function, and pharmacology of ryanodine-sensitive calcium channels of sarcoplasmic and endoplasmic reticulum in striated muscle and mammalian brain; and genetic and environmental factors influencing neurodevelopment, among other topics.

Thomas J. Inzana, PhD, is associate dean for research at Long Island University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Prior to joining LIU in 2018, he was a professor of bacteriology and research integrity in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. He worked at Virginia-Maryland from 1987-2018 and also held the position of section head for the teaching hospital's clinical microbiology laboratory and as the coordinator for the Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Diseases.

Dr. Inzana's research interests include the development of improved vaccines for bacterial pathogens and biological warfare agents, host immune response to bacterial pathogens, and the development of improved diagnostic tests for bacteria and biological warfare agents.

He received his masters' in medical microbiology in 1978 from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine and his doctorate in microbiology from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in 1982.