(SCHAUMBURG, Illinois) July 29, 2021— The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) today honored Dr. Megin Nichols, veterinary epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as the winner of the 2021 AVMA Public Service Award.
The award, established in 1968, recognizes an AVMA member veterinarian for outstanding public service or contributions to the practice or science of public health and regulatory veterinary medicine.
“Dr. Nichols has dedicated her career to exemplary public service at the state and federal levels, including a commitment to mentoring and advocating for the next generation of veterinary professionals” said Dr. Douglas Kratt, president of the AVMA. “Her extensive career and proven leadership in the field of veterinary public health make her the ideal choice for the AVMA Public Service Award.”
Dr. Nichols’ public service career started after her graduation from the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in 2008, when she joined the uniformed services as a lieutenant in the United States Public Health Service with the CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service. Stationed at the New Mexico Department of Health, her work focused on One Health and preventing zoonoses diseases that are commonly spread between people and animals, many of which are endemic to New Mexico, including plague, tularemia, and Hantavirus. Work in this area also took her around the state to investigate outbreaks such as Campylobacter affecting summer camp attendees, vaccination clinics after a skunk rabies epidemic, and prevention of whooping cough in remote communities.
In 2015, Dr. Nichols began work at the CDC, investigating nationwide outbreaks of enteric zoonotic diseases linked to contact with animals such as backyard poultry and small turtles. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Nichols established a working group to address the impact of the pandemic on the food system. To mitigate potential impacts, her team disseminated CDC guidance and provided technical assistance during outbreaks among food and agricultural industry workers, meat and poultry processing plant workers, and essential food service and retail workers in restaurants, grocery stores, childcare and schools, institutions of higher education, and food banks and pantries.
One of Dr. Nichols’ greatest contributions in the public service arena has been her devotion to mentorship of students, fellows, and junior staff. She has consistently supervised CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service Officers, training new veterinarians in applied epidemiology during 2-year fellowships. Dr. Nichols also hosts veterinary students for rotations, finding rewarding projects for students that not only contribute to their learning, but also provide opportunities to advance their careers through gaining experience presenting at seminars or conferences or through publications. Her contributions in this area have created a cadre of veterinarians and other scientists that will have a career-long interest in applied epidemiology and a deep appreciation for the connection between human and animal health.
Dr. Nichols continues to be very engaged in veterinary professional organizations. She served as the Chair of the Continuing Education Committee for the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine and is a content coordinator for the AVMA Public and Corporate Practice track. She continues to serve on the AVMA Committee on Antimicrobials and used her knowledge on antimicrobial resistance to lead development of the AVMA report on antimicrobial-resistant pathogens affecting animal health in the United States. She is currently a member of the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians and the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine.
For more information, contact Michael San Filippo, media relations manager, at 847-732-6194 (cell) or msanfilippoavma [dot] org (msanfilippo[at]avma[dot]org).
About the AVMA
Serving more than 100,000 member veterinarians, the AVMA is the nation's leading representative of the veterinary profession, dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of animals, humans and the environment. Founded in 1863 and with members in every U.S. state and territory and more than 60 countries, the AVMA is one of the largest veterinary medical organizations in the world. Informed by our members' unique scientific training and clinical knowledge, the AVMA supports the crucial work of veterinarians and advocates for policies that advance the practice of veterinary medicine and improve animal and human health.