Drs. Joanne Paul Murphy and Ray Wack
Drs. Joanne Paul Murphy presents Dr. Ray Wack with the 2018 Clinical Faculty Excellence Award.

Dean Michael Lairmore welcomed new individuals to the school’s community during the annual Fall Faculty Reception on September 20th and acknowledged those in outgoing and incoming leadership roles. The school also honored faculty members with awards for excellence in teaching and research, along with volunteers honored for their service.

fall faculty reception
Drs. Joie Watson and Stephen McSorley

Dr. Joie Watson presented Dr. Stephen McSorley with the 2018 Zoetis Distinguished Veterinary Teacher Award. McSorley was recognized for excellence in teaching immunology and microbiology and for outstanding block leadership in VET413. A professor in the Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Cell Biology and interim director of the Center for Comparative Medicine, McSorley teaches in VET413 with the goal of providing students a solid working knowledge of immunology while making the content relevant and interesting.

Teaching a required basic science like immunology can make it difficult to achieve high praise from the student body. McSorley receives exceptional teaching evaluations from the veterinary students. It is clear from student comments that they appreciate his efforts to make a complicated topic more manageable. Students consistently reference the many strategies he uses: presenting clear learning outcomes, using a “road map” to organize lecture material, and providing analogies that assist both understanding and recall. His use of Superhero references is repeatedly mentioned in his evaluations, and it is clear the students feel his super-power is teaching immunology.

In accepting the award, McSorley tried to downplay all the positive comments that Watson quoted.

“What’s the difference between a battery and a Scotsman?” he asked. “One of them has a positive.” After everyone quit laughing, he read a review that was a little more critical, albeit humorous, from a student who complained about his accent and monotone delivery.

“I never thought I’d get a teaching award—ever,” he said. “I don’t know a thing about veterinary medicine and I only know a little about immunology. Thank you for this honor.”


fall faculty reception
Drs. Jan Ilkiw and David Maggs

Dr. Jan Ilkiw presented Dr. David Maggs with the 2018 Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award.

Maggs was recognized for excellence in teaching ophthalmology to professional students and residents, as well as superb leadership of the Curriculum Committee. A professor in the Department of Surgical and Radiological Sciences, he is described as an inspirational teacher with a knack for distilling complex subjects into tangible, easily understood concepts that are delivered with humor and enthusiasm.

He excels in inquiry-based, team-delivered, discussion-type teaching sessions, which also provide opportunities for mentoring junior faculty, who describe him as an educator role model. Maggs also ventured beyond his comfort zone into teaching the facilitated communication sessions, where he excels in mentoring and supporting students in stressful role-playing scenarios with actors. A highly sought after speaker, he is recognized nationally/internationally for exceptional continuing education.

“It is particularly rewarding to receive this award at this university,” Maggs said. “If I’ve stood tall enough to receive this, it’s because I’m standing on the shoulders of my colleagues.”


fall faculty
Drs. Kevin Woolard and Nicole Baumgarth

Dr. Kevin Woolard presented Dr. Nicole Baumgarth with a 2018 Zoetis Excellence in Research Award. Baumgarth received the 2018 Zoetis Excellence in Research Award for her outstanding work on the regulation of B-cell responses during inflammation. She has characterized a subset B-cell population in mice, termed B-1 cells, which function in response to innate stimuli, including recent demonstration of the role of the IgM receptor FcmR in differentiation between B1 and B2 subsets. The significance of this work extends into antibody-mediated autoimmunity, where she continues to probe the roles of secreted IgM in normal B cell development and selection. 

Baumgarth is a tireless advocate for women and veterinarians as principal investigators in basic science. She constantly challenges not only her trainees, but every trainee she interacts with, to strive for excellence and to demonstrate a deep understanding of their work. She’s regarded as an excellent mentor.

Characteristically, Baumgarth acknowledged the hard work of those in her lab. “I wouldn’t be standing here, receiving this award, without the graduate students in my lab.”


fall faculty
Drs. Chris Barker and Janet Foley

Dr. Chris Barker presented Dr. Janet Foley with another 2018 Zoetis Excellence in Research Award. Foley received the 2018 Zoetis Excellence in Research Award for her exceptional research at the interface between ecology and epidemiology. Her research program studies how community complexity contributes to disease persistence and emergence, and how causal factors are modified by anthropogenic change. A member of the Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, Foley’s mentoring skills and passion for research make her lab a top choice for incoming students.

Her research includes assessments of various animal species' health in the wild and management of disease and other stressors in endangered and threatened species, such as the American pika, the endangered Amargosa vole, and the endangered San Joaquin kit fox. She is unquestionably on the short list of the top experts on tick-borne diseases affecting human and animal health in the western U.S., serving as a resource for the CDC, the California Department of Public Health, and many other federal and state partners on the topic of tick-borne disease. She leads tick-borne disease research for the Pacific Southwest Center of Excellence in Vector-Borne Diseases.

Foley’s work focuses not only on infectious disease but takes into account climate change and anthropogenic effects on endangered and threatened species. “More and more, I realize I want to broaden my scope of research to work on our planet,” she said.


fall faculty
Drs. Joanna Paul Murphy and Ray Wack

Dr. Joanne Paul Murphy presented Dr. Ray Wack with the 2018 Clinical Faculty Excellence Award. Wack was honored for his passion for teaching, leadership skills, and dedication to providing outstanding care to the animals at the Sacramento Zoo and other wildlife/zoological facilities. He reinvigorated the Zoological Medicine Program at the school, making it a favorite rotation among the students—often with a long waiting list. An important component of this success is Wack’s vision to create a curriculum that not only provides the fundamental skills required by graduates to be successful in general veterinary careers, but also to inspire young professionals to consider entering zoological, wildlife or conservation medicine.

He is board certified in the European College of Zoological Medicine as well as the American College of Zoological Medicine. Wack’s collaborative research projects with USGS, CDFW & AZA designed to improve conservation efforts for endangered giant garter snakes & western pond turtles have brought in more than $600,000 in grant funding over the last 10 years.

Wack was emotional in receiving his award and credited his wife, Nancy Anderson, with all of her support over the years. “This wouldn’t have been possible without her.”


Although they could not be in attendance at the reception, Jo Cowan and Bill and Lannie Hoglund were honored with the school’s 2018 Distinguished Service Award. Cowan was recognized for her outstanding years of volunteer service and leadership at the California Raptor Center. As a volunteer since the 1980s, Cowen has contributed her time, teaching expertise, leadership, and myriad other skills to keeping the center a vibrant hub for raptor rehabilitation, education, and research.

The Hoglands were honored for their long-standing contributions of time, service, leadership and financial support to further the mission of the school, and the SeaDoc Society in particular. Over the last 14 years, the Hoglunds have made annual gifts totaling more than $1.15M to support the mission of the SeaDoc Society, including unrestricted support for general operations as well as restricted support to fund important projects and initiatives.