Where did you earn degrees, and what are your current responsibilities at UGA?
I earned my undergraduate and DVM degrees from the University of California at Davis and then completed my graduate work in physiology at the University of Missouri. I am currently a professor in the department of large animal medicine where I teach veterinary students, train graduate students and collaborate on research projects.
When did you come to UGA, and what brought you here?
My wife and I joined the faculty at UGA in January of 1981, primarily because we fell in love with the Athens area during the interview process. We were looking for two faculty positions, the College of Veterinary Medicine had openings in our areas, and we had friends at UGA who encouraged us to apply. By the end of the second day of the visit, we were hooked.
What are your favorite courses, and why?
My favorite course at this time is the elective course that I co-teach with Michelle Barton about equine abdominal diseases. It is particularly enjoyable because the students are highly motivated and Michelle is such an incredible teacher to watch in action.
What interests you about your field?
Veterinary medicine as a profession is incredibly diverse, which is an excellent stimulus by itself. Just walk through the Teaching Hospital, and you’ll see highly trained people taking care of everything from horses to iguanas, and doing so using techniques ranging from the physical examination to MRIs. When you couple that with the opportunity to ask research questions and see the answers applied to real-world clinical scenarios, it just doesn’t get any better.
What are some highlights of your career at UGA?
While I can think of several, I’ll share three. The first was in 1982 when three of us at UGA invited veterinary researchers from around the world to a meeting at the Georgia Center to share their most recent findings about equine abdominal diseases and, hopefully, initiate cross-institutional collaborations The response to that meeting was overwhelmingly positive and this symposium has been held every three years since, with several of them held at the Georgia Center (and The Globe). The success of these symposia and the friendships that have grown out of them have been particularly rewarding, both for me personally and for other faculty members and graduate students at UGA.
The second highlight has been my work with some very talented folks in our college to create interactive 3-D teaching materials that help make complex subjects infinitely more understandable than they were previously. This collaboration with Thel Melton, Flint Buchanan, Mac Smith, Jared Jackson, Cheri Roberts and Brad Gilleland has produced the Glass Horse and Glass Dog teaching materials that are used in veterinary colleges and by veterinarians worldwide. One of these programs received the Dr. Frank Netter Award for Special Contributions to Medical Education, and is the only veterinary program to receive that distinction.
The third highlight of my career is a cross-campus project I’m a part of now. The logical extension of incorporating 3-D technologies into veterinary education was to see if something similar could be done at the high school level, with the goal being to increase student engagement in science. This NIH-funded project started as a collaboration with Steve Oliver in the College of Education and three local high school science teachers. Our on-campus group now includes people from veterinary and human medicine, education, journalism, dramatic media, biological sciences, physics, engineering, computer science, infectious diseases, agriculture and environmental sciences, 4-H, and plant science. Most importantly, we are interacting with teachers and students in several schools in Georgia. I’ve never been a part of anything as exciting and potentially far reaching as this – our main focus now is obtaining the research support needed to keep it going!
How does your research or scholarship inspire your teaching?
For the first 15 years of my career, my research focused on the life-threatening complications that occur in horses with abdominal diseases. Because I worked as an equine surgeon in our College’s Teaching Hospital, I was able to incorporate our latest research findings into discussions with students about the horses being treated in the hospital. For the past 15 years, my primary focus has been on the development of new teaching aids, which I’m able to incorporate directly into courses in the veterinary curriculum or see being evaluated in the local high schools. Nothing could be more inspiring.
What do you hope students gain from their classroom experience with you?
In addition to learning the material, which veterinary students do particularly well, I hope they see how much I enjoy what I do. I remember teachers that injected humor into lessons and made learning fun for me, and hope I’m able to do this for our students.
Describe your ideal student.
Attentive, interested and willing to laugh at him/herself.
Favorite place to be/thing to do on campus is…
… Sanford Stadium during football season, cheering on the Dawgs and trying to figure out the “message” painted on the students in the first row of the student section.
Beyond the UGA campus, I like to…
… do anything with my wife, Cynthia, and daughters, Jamie and Breanna. This ranges from traveling to helping our daughters prepare for tests to watching chick flicks, such as A Walk to Remember.
Community/civic involvement includes…
I’ve helped out with various fund raising activities for MDA and the American Heart Association, and now am working with a large group of folks on campus to create better teaching materials for use in high school science classrooms.
I read all of the time and so my “favorite” book changes every couple of years. Early on, it would have been anything by Leon Uris, and then by Robert Ludlum. I love the fact that Ludlum continues to release best sellers ten years after his death, as it suggests that my CV could continue to grow.… I also enjoy books about history and especially those about Abraham Lincoln. Although my daughters repeatedly point out that “He dies in the end,” I’ve probably read a dozen of these. Right now I’m knee deep in the Steve Jobs biography.
Proudest moment at UGA?
Honestly, an individual moment doesn’t come to mind. When you’ve been some place for more than 30 years, the big ones and little ones tend to blend together.