Four CVM faculty win Distinguished Achievement Awards

Every year, for more than 50 years, The Association of Former Students (AFS), Texas A&M University’s official alumni association, has been recognizing outstanding members of the faculty and staff with Distinguished Achievement Awards, one of the highest university honors. This year, four faculty members of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) have been honored to receive this very special recognition.

Dr. Louise Abbott and Dr. William Murphy, associate professors in the department of veterinary integrative biosciences, are this year’s recipients of the awards in the categories of teaching and research, respectively. Dr. James Womack, distinguished professor in the department of veterinary pathobiology, has been honored with a graduate mentoring award, and Dr. Debra Zoran, associate professor and chief of small animal internal medicine in the department of veterinary small animal clinical sciences, has also won the award for teaching.

“These four distinguished faculty members are a credit to our college,” said Dr. Eleanor Green, Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine. “Their dedication and commitment to our students and our programs, as well as that of their colleagues, are why Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine is an international leader in animal, public and environmental health.”

These faculty members will receive a $4000 cash gift, a commemorative plaque and an engraved watch at The AFS University-Level Awards Ceremony, which will be held on April 29 from 1:30 to 3:00 p.m. in Rudder Theater.

For Abbott, a faculty member in the CVM’s neuroscience and toxicology program, the award is the latest teaching accolade of several she has earned during her career. She was named the university’s 1997-98 Montague-Center for Teaching Excellence Scholar.

During her 15-year career at CVM, Abbott says she has particularly enjoyed the opportunity to have one-on-one interactions with various students, whether it has involved helping veterinary students to make a contribution to the profession, encouraging research at the undergraduate level or exposing graduate students to the latest advancements in research.

“It’s a prestigious honor,” she said, commenting on the award. “The fact that it included letters [of nomination] from students makes it particularly special.”

Also honored in the teaching category, Zoran is involved in clinical, teaching and research activities in the fields of small animal gastroenterology, nutrition and feline medicine.

“This really is overwhelming and humbling,” Zoran said. “There are so many wonderful teachers and teaching role models in our college that I just feel blessed to be chosen for this very special award. I wish to thank my mentors who have supported me and [have] helped me learn how to be a better teacher.” For Murphy, recipient of award in the research category, the award is the second research award he has received in the past six months. Last December, Murphy won the university’s JoAnn Treat Research Excellence Award.

Murphy’s research is targeted toward improving our understanding of the organization and evolution of genes that may be of relevance to feline diseases and traits of interest through genome mapping. He also studies the genetic and environmental changes responsible for the diversification and extinction of mammalian populations and species.

“I would like to thank all of my fantastic students, staff and colleagues in the CVM and elsewhere who make coming to work every day a pleasure, and without whom I would not be deserving of this honor,” Murphy said in recognition of the award.

For Womack, winner of the award for graduate mentoring, the award is an addition to the numerous prestigious honors he has received during the course of his career. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, Womack is credited with creating the first genome map of cattle. His research interests include identifying genes responsible for disease resistance in mammals and developing animal models for human disease research and for improving animal health and productivity.

Commenting on the award, Womack said, “Graduate students are the glue that holds a research university together. They are the link between teaching and research. I’ve been fortunate to have some truly outstanding young men and women train in my laboratory, and their postdoctoral success is much more of a tribute to them than to me. I am honored to receive this award on their behalf.”

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