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2011 Faculty Awards

Date: 2/24/2011 1:42 pm

Due to the generosity of donors and sponsors, the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine presented $350,000 in scholarships and awards to over 125 veterinary students on Honors Night on Feb. 17. Honors Night also recognized the outstanding teaching ability and research achievements of six faculty members: Dr. Betsy Welles, Dr. Ralph Henderson, Dr. Elaine Coleman, Dr. Ya-xiong Tao, Dr. Vitaly Vodyanoy, and Dr. Valery Petrenko. 

Dr. Betsy Welles

Department of Pathobiology

Pfizer Distinguished Teacher Award

Dr. Betsy Welles is an alumnus of Auburn University earning a D.V.M. from the College of Veterinary Medicine in 1981 and a Ph.D. in clinical pathology from the University of Georgia in 1989.  She joined Auburn’s faculty in 1990.  A professor, Dr. Welles serves as director of the clinical pathology laboratory.  She has served nationally with the American College of Veterinary Pathology as a member of the examination committee and as president of the American Society of Veterinary Clinical Pathology.

“When seniors are asked to reflect on how well they were prepared, they consistently report that they were very well-prepared in clinical pathology, and this is in large part because of the exacting standards set by Dr. Welles,” said College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Tim Boosinger.  

A student’s comment on her teaching states: “I feel privileged to have been taught by Dr. Welles.  She taught with enthusiasm and has the ability as a teacher to keep everyone interested and eager to learn the material.  I also admired her ability to explain difficult material clearly with or without materials in front of her.”

The purpose of the Pfizer Distinguished Teacher Award is to improve veterinary medical education by recognizing outstanding teachers who, through their ability, dedication, character and leadership, contribute significantly to the advancement of the profession.  The Norden Distinguished Teacher Award was first presented in 1963 as a demonstration of Norden Laboratories’ commitment to recognizing excellence in veterinary education.  After the merger of the various companies, Pfizer has continued to honor the best in veterinary education.

Dr. Ralph Henderson

Department of Clinical Sciences

SGA Outstanding Teacher Award

Dr. Ralph Henderson earned his D.V.M. from the University of Missouri and his Master of Science from Auburn University.  He joined Auburn’s faculty in 1972 receiving the title of professor in 1986.  He became a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons in 1978 and he is a charter member of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (clinical oncology).  He has published 20 book chapters on veterinary surgery, authored 74 scientific publications, and has presented numerous papers at scientific meetings.

“Most importantly for this occasion, he is a wonderfully talented and dedicated teacher, in both the hospital and the classroom,” said Dean Boosinger. From one of his students, “He is the best instructor I’ve had.  He always goes the extra mile in teaching, and he is one of the very best with clients.  I hope to emulate him in my life.”

Dr. Elaine Coleman

Department of Anatomy, Physiology & Pharmacology

Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching

The Dean’s Award, first presented in 2000, is based on student nomination.  Dr. Elaine Coleman earned her D.V.M. from The Ohio State University and her master’s and Ph.D. from Auburn University.  She also completed an internship and a residency in neurology at Auburn.  Dr. Coleman joined the faculty as an associate professor in 2001 and she continues to advance her scholarly program in neurophysiology. “In teaching she is among the very best,” said Dean Boosinger.  Since 1996 she has received four teaching awards: two Norden Distinguished Teacher Awards, the SGA Outstanding Teacher Award, and the Dean’s Award.  “Her students describe her as enthusiastic and talented.  She challenges students to be both a good veterinarian and a good person,” said Dr. Boosinger.

A student comments:  “She’s one of a kind.  I’m lucky to have learned from her.  I can go to her with any question, any time and receive help.  She actually made me enjoy neuro, even though it was hard for me at first.”


Dr. Ya-xiong Tao

Department of Anatomy, Physiology & Pharmacology

L.G. Wolfe Award for Excellence in Graduate Instruction

Dr. Ya-xiong Tao received the award for excellence in educating and mentoring M.S. and Ph.D. candidates in the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Biomedical Sciences graduate program. An associate professor in physiology, Dr. Tao obtained his Ph.D. from the Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Bejing, China.  He completed post-doctoral training at the University of Louisville and at the University of Iowa. Before coming to Auburn, he served as an assistant research scientist with the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. 

“Dr. Tao is a graduate program coordinator who has promoted graduate education actively and tirelessly since joining the faculty in 2004,” said Dr. Frank Bartol, associate dean of Research and Graduate Studies.  “He developed the much needed course, Receptorology, which is subscribed by graduate students in the life sciences campus-wide.  Additionally, he is an energetic contributor to college programs, such as the Joy-Goodwin lecture series, which support visits of nationally and internationally recognized scientists.” 

Dr. Vitaly Vodyanoy

Department of Anatomy, Physiology & Pharmacology

B.F.Hoerlein Memorial Endowed Faculty Research Award

Dr. Vitaly Vodyanoy is a scientist, inventor, and scholar whose efforts have produced important, novel observations and technological innovations in the field of vertebrate olfaction and beyond.  Ranging from early observations on mechanisms regulating cellular signal transduction to techniques for enhancing canine olfactory neuron response ten-fold, he has contributed to the development of technologies that have and are being translated into field applications that impact the advancement of science and national security.

An Auburn University Alumni Professor, Dr. Vodyanoy has secured over $12 million in extramural funds and is the recipient of numerous national awards including two R&D 100 Awards and the 2007 Nano 50 Award.

Dr. Valery Petrenko

Department of Pathobiology 

Pfizer Animal Health Award for Research Excellence

Dr. Valey Petrenko has pioneered applications of directed molecular evolution and viral phage display technology in development of nanotherapeutics.  As the principal investigator, Dr. Petrenko helped develop and fund the recently designated Center for Translational Cancer Nanomedicine at the College of Veterinary Medicine.  The five-year $1.7 million award is part of a larger, $13.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute which established a Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence.

Dr. Petrenko and Auburn University researchers will work with a multidisciplinary team of scientists, industry, and government partners to develop new, nanotechnology-based strategies for treatment of lung, pancreatic, and breast cancers.  An internationally recognized scholar and expert in his field, Dr. Petrenko has secured over $6 million in extramural support for his research.

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