The Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) has announced that Dr. Sarah Hamer, an associate professor the Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences (VIBS), has been named the Richard Schubot Endowed Chair and director of the Schubot Exotic Bird Health Center.
In the role, Hamer will oversee the avian health research, teaching, and clinical practice conducted at the unique and world-famous aviary for exotic and native birds.
“It’s a great honor to be in a leadership position to direct research to improve avian and ecosystem health. I am excited to maintain the existing strengths and identity of the center, while also growing to be inclusive of a broader community of TAMU researchers and our collaborators,” Hamer said. “We have such amazing facilities and resources in an ideal geographic location to advance avian health research, and I look forward to leveraging our assets to draw in passionate students and extramural support.”
“Dr. Hamer is an expert in the ecology and epidemiology of zoonotic disease, including in avian health research, to which she has devoted more than half of her recent publications,” said Dr. Eleanor Green, the Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine at the CVM. “Her current avian studies include a characterization of infectious health threats to the endangered whooping crane and a study of avian migration as a mechanism for expanding the geographic ranges of vectors and pathogens. She also has collaborated with the Schubot Center in sequencing the genome and transcriptome of whooping and Sandhill cranes, in an effort to enhance the birds’ conservation efforts. We are thrilled to have her lead the Schubot Center.”
Hamer’s goals in directing the center include leading the current and new Schubot scientists and students; creating an immersive teaching environment focused on hands-on learning; building bridges with diverse state, national, and international collaborators; and facilitating the establishment of the center as a national and international leader in avian health research, teaching, and clinical practice.
She hopes to foster these goals through such possible future initiatives as a “Schubot Scholar” program, through which to recruit stellar graduate students with merit- or diversity-based fellowship matching funds; an avian health seed-grant competition to encourage preliminary data collection for fueling external proposals; cultivating expanded collaborative relationships with the avian veterinary clinicians and residents at the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital to expand opportunities in the aviary; and a monthly seminar series to host external eminent avian-themed speakers, as well as internal rising scholars.
Green said she believes Hamer’s vision for the center will prioritize the wishes of the late Mr. Richard Schubot in improving the health of exotic birds, while striving to maintain many of the strong elements of the existing Schubot program that thrived under Dr. Ian Tizard’s leadership.
“I would like to thank Dr. Ian Tizard for his years of excellent service as Richard Schubot Endowed Chair and director of the Schubot Exotic Bird Health Center,” Green said. “Under his leadership, the Schubot Exotic Bird Health Center has prospered and made notable impacts, while gaining national and international recognition.”
Hamer earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree and a doctorate in fisheries & wildlife and ecology from Michigan State University, and her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in natural resources and environmental sciences degrees from the University of Illinois. She is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine and has an associate wildlife biologist certification from The Wildlife Society.
She has taught at Texas A&M since 2012, during which time she has served as a principal investigator or co-principal investigator on grants totaling more than $2 million from agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of Homeland Security, and the Centers for Disease Control, among others.
“Dr. Hamer has already made a significant impact on our college with her research on the epidemiology of zoonotic diseases,” said Jane Welsh, VIBS interim department head “She has adopted a One Health approach and worked extensively on wild bird parasitic diseases and also Chagas disease in wildlife and domestic animals. In her new role as Richard Schubot Endowed Chair and the center director, she will continue to illuminate our understanding of the complexities of the interactions between the environment, pathogens, and birds.”
She was selected by a five-person advisory committee, which submitted its final recommendation to the dean for her consideration.
“Dr. Hamer has proven herself to be an excellent researcher, mentor, and team-builder. I think she is ideally suited for the position,” Ramesh Vemulapalli, professor and head of the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology and chair of the Schubot Center director selection advisory committee. “I am confident Dr. Hamer will bring new energy and enthusiasm to the Schubot Center’s avian health research and educational activities. We are excited about the leadership she will bring to the center.”