Three VMBS Faculty Members Recognized For Teaching Excellence

Story by Megan Myers, VMBS Communications

The Texas A&M Association of Former Students has awarded three School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (VMBS) faculty members with college-level teaching awards for their dedication to students.

The VMBS’ 2022 award recipients are clinical associate professors Drs. Walt Cook and Johanna Heseltine and assistant professor Dr. Annie Newell-Fugate.

The recipients were nominated by VMBS colleagues and selected for their command of their respective disciplines, teaching methodologies, pervasive caring, communication skills, and commitment to the learning process.

The college-level teaching award is designed to distinguish those teachers who maintain high expectations of their students, ensure academic rigor in their courses, and recognize their responsibility in motivating and contributing to the overall development of the student.

Dr. Walt Cook

Dr. John August, Dr. Walt Cook, Dr. Albert Mulenga, and Andrew Arizpe with an AFS college-level award certificate
Drs. John August, Walt Cook, and Albert Mulenga with Association of Former Students Vice President Andrew Arizpe

Cook teaches undergraduate-, graduate-, and professional-level courses on a variety of wildlife topics, as well as a study abroad course on wildlife medicine in South Africa, in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology.

He also mentors students at all degree levels and serves as a faculty co-adviser to Green Vets, a student organization focused on the intersection of wildlife conservation and veterinary medicine.

“Dr. Cook is a devoted teacher and mentor to students in the undergraduate, graduate, and veterinary professional programs,” one nominator said. “As an expert veterinarian in wildlife health and management, he recognized the needs of students and developed and taught several courses in this area, most of which have active-learning experiences integrated into the course syllabi.”

Cook is also active in research and outreach, with his primary interests being wildlife disease prevention and management.

“Dr. Cook has personally trained over 150 veterinarians on a technique to collect samples from live deer for chronic wasting disease testing,” the nominator said. “He has also testified at the U.S. Senate Committee on Environmental and Public Works hearing entitled, ‘Examining the Impacts of Diseases on Wildlife Conservation and Management.’”

Dr. Johanna Heseltine

Dr. John August, Dr. Johanna Heseltine, Dr. Jon Levine, and Andrew Arizpe with an AFS college-level award certificate
Drs. John August, Johanna Heseltine, and Jon Levine with Association of Former Students Vice President Andrew Arizpe

In addition to teaching several pre-clinical courses for veterinary students, Heseltine also provides clinical education for those in their fourth year, as well as for interns and residents, in the Texas A&M Small Animal Teaching Hospital’s Internal Medicine Service.

“Much of Dr. Heseltine’s teaching occurs in the clinical environment, where she is involved in teaching students the art of medicine,” one nominator said. “That instruction involves modeling clinical excellence, actively discussing clinical reasoning, and providing students with feedback on often-subtle clinical skills. These interactions are essential to generating practice-ready veterinarians.”

The Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences faculty member also has been recognized with the Richard H. Davis Teaching Award, the Juan Carlos Robles Emanuelli Teaching Award, and the John Miliff Award for Teaching.

“Her peer evaluations of teaching in the classroom and small-group setting have been strong, and student evaluations have been exceptional,” one nominator said. “I believe Dr. Heseltine’s past recognitions and strong evaluations are the result of an exceptional focus on professional development in education, her understanding of student-centered learning techniques, and her active engagement in scholarship of teaching and learning.”

She has shared her innovative approaches to content delivery in publications and at conferences like the Veterinary Educators Collaborative and the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Forum.

Dr. Annie Newell-Fugate

Newell-Fugate teaches biomedical physiology courses for undergraduate and graduate students interested in both clinical medicine and research careers.

“Dr. Newell-Fugate has developed what I believe is a remarkable gift—the ability to inspire students to get involved in science by understanding and appreciating it,” one nominator said. “Collectively, I believe that the Department of Veterinary Physiology & Pharmacology and the School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences are fortunate to have such a gifted young academician and educator on our faculty.”

Her courses promote critical thinking, problem solving, and communication—all vital skills for students planning to enter the health professions.

“Her ‘lead by example’ model has been rewarded with the departmental Richard H. Davis Teaching Award in 2017, as well as a campus-wide 2019 Montague Teaching Award,” the nominator said. “These awards emphasize Dr. Newell-Fugate’s developing abilities and provide evidence of the exciting learning environment Dr. Newell-Fugate has engendered in which students far exceed their own expectations.”

Newell-Fugate also mentors undergraduate, graduate, and veterinary students who assist with her research in the Comparative Endocrine Laboratory, which focuses on the physiological effects of obesity, hyperinsulinemia, and insulin resistance.


For more information about the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please visit our website at or join us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Director of VMBS Communications, Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences,, 979-862-4216

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