2023 & 2024 Alumni Achievement and Rising Star Alumni Awards

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2023 & 2024 Alumni Achievement and Rising Star Alumni Awards

Each year the School of Veterinary Medicine honors its alumni with Achievement Awards. The Alumni Achievement Award recognizes outstanding contributions by graduates of the school’s DVM, MPVM, and graduate academic (MS, PhD) programs, or individuals who have completed internship or residency programs. The Rising Star Alumni Award honors a DVM graduate of the school who, within 15 years of graduation, has demonstrated outstanding professional achievement. 

Award recipients for this year will be recognized during the Alumni Reunion weekend in October 2024.

2023 Recipients


Brian Leonard PhD (’12), DVM (’12), Comparative Ophthalmology Residency (’17). Dr. Leonard is honored with the Rising Star Alumni Award in recognition of outstanding contributions to vision science and comparative ophthalmology. A triple alum of the School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Leonard completed a mentored NIH K08 training program in 2022. He joined our faculty in 2019 as a clinician-scientist and has made substantive contributions to the section of comparative ophthalmology and importantly has expanded and strengthened “cross causeway” ties with the Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences in the School of Medicine. Dr. Leonard has established himself, nationally and internationally, as a junior leader in ocular surface diseases and therapeutics and has assumed a leadership role in training and research in inarguably the strongest academic program in comparative ophthalmology in the world.

Kate Hopper

Kate Hopper, Small Animal Emergency and Critical Care Residency (’02), PhD (’07). Dr. Hopper receives an Alumni Achievement Award for outstanding scholarship in companion animal emergency and critical care; and inspired administrative leadership of the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. Recipient of the 2023 Ira M. Zaslow Distinguished Service Award of the Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society and the 2019 School’s Faculty Distinguished Teaching award, Dr. Hopper is a ‘global’ tour de force in veterinary emergency and critical care who continues to have an indelible impact on the evolution of the discipline of veterinary critical care through her altruistic leadership, commitment to teaching and experiential training, and clinical scholarship. With seemingly indefatigable energy, infectious enthusiasm, and healthy pragmatism layered over unquestioned dedication to the clinical enterprise, Dr. Hopper’s leadership of the Small Animal Hospital and the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital continues to be transformative, enhancing the school’s reputation.

Kate Hurley

Kate Hurley DVM (’99), MPVM (’03), Shelter Medicine Residency (’03). Dr. Hurley is recognized for courage and unshakable vision, succeeding in saving millions of animals by elevating expectations and providing excellence in Shelter Medicine. The specialty of Shelter Medicine was born at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine through the vision of Dr. Hurley, three-time alumna, including as the inaugural Shelter Medicine Resident. Soft spoken, humble, powerful, and a generous colleague, Dr. Hurley has advocated, initiated, and heralded permanent new expectations (globally) to raise every possible facet of care for sheltered animals. She co-authored the first shelter-specific vaccine guidelines for dogs and cats, emphasizing the crucial differences in care needs for sheltered versus pet populations. Dr. Hurley has shown the courage to champion entirely new expectations for sheltered animals and those who care for them. She has generously, and genuinely devoted her personal and professional life to the mental and physical welfare of animals, and to the humans that care for them. Dr. Hurley is a rock-solid visionary who has elevated Shelter Medicine education, research, and care.

Grant Miller

Grant Miller DVM (’04). Dr. Miller is honored for outstanding leadership in equine welfare, disaster preparedness and response, and support of the veterinary profession in California. Just short of two decades since graduating, Dr. Miller has had an indelible impact on the veterinary profession in California, indeed nationally and internationally. After completing a BS (Animal Science – Equine emphasis) at UC Davis, Dr. Miller obtained a DVM with a Large Animal emphasis. His continuing efforts directed toward equine welfare have resulted in speaking invitations, nationally and internationally, on themes including starting volunteer organizations; care and management practices; the role of the veterinarian in equine abuse cases; forensic investigation of an equine crime; and on being an effective expert witness. Dr. Miller has had an abiding commitment to animal welfare in natural disasters and has been instrumental in developing and implementing training and response plans, and facilitating preparedness of California counties for emergencies. Dr. Miller has shown a keen interest in organized veterinary medicine and public policy since he was a veterinary student, and was the first veterinary student intern for the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA). Dr. Miller’s passion for public policy expanded his role within CVMA, and he is tireless in his efforts to address regulatory and legislative issues that impact veterinarians and the practice of veterinary medicine in California.

2024 Recipients

Christine Parker-Graham

Christine Parker-Graham DVM (’14). Dr. Parker-Graham is honored with the Rising Star Alumna Award for outstanding dedication to conservation medicine, tribal partnerships, and the ongoing improvement of aquatic animal health and welfare. A triple UC Davis alumna including a BA ('08) and Aquatic Animal Health fellow ('18), she is a veterinary medical officer with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), providing veterinary services to federal and tribal fish hatcheries to support conservation and tribal trust missions. Dr. Parker-Graham focuses on improving fish health in conservation hatcheries, increasing awareness within the agency of the importance of fish welfare, and strengthening relationships with hatchery managers and biologists to consider welfare metrics, build welfare evaluations, and initiate programs to improve welfare of hatchery fish.  With the Department of Interior's recent initiative to entrust environmental stewardship to Tribes, FWS has transferred management of a large hatchery in Idaho to the Nez Perce Tribe. Dr. Parker-Graham continues to provide veterinary oversight and support to this hatchery, ensuring the tribe has the veterinary resources needed to achieve their aquatic conservation goals.

Annette Jones

Annette Jones DVM (’98). Dr. Jones is recognized for outstanding contributions to enhancing animal health emergency management policies and programs, and for successfully leading multiple disease eradication efforts. Dr. Jones received a BA (’86) from UC Davis before her DVM. She serves as the State Veterinarian and Director, Animal Health and Food Safety Services (AHFSS), California Department of Food & Agriculture (CDFA). Throughout her career, she has been instrumental in developing and implementing improved strategies, policies and programs to detect and eradicate catastrophic foreign animal diseases. After three years in private mixed animal practice, Dr. Jones joined the Animal Health Branch of CDFA in 2001. With a unique background in business and finance before veterinary school, and innate communication and people skills, Dr. Jones was quickly recognized for her leadership capabilities. She was appointed as the Co-Incident/Area Commander of the 2002-03 Exotic Newcastle Disease (END) Eradication Program, the largest emergency disease eradication effort to date in the United States. Dr. Jones was appointed State Veterinarian for California in 2010, responsible for policy development and emergency response for the largest agricultural economy in the nation. She has developed excellent working relationships with academic and animal industry partners. Under her leadership, her team has developed or updated policies and response programs for highly pathogenic avian influenza, leading the successful eradication effort in 2015; and the successful eradication once again of Virulent Newcastle Disease in 2020.

Dan Lewis

Dan Lewis DVM (‘83). Dr. Lewis is recognized for distinguished service to the veterinary profession through innovations in clinical orthopedic research, passionate teaching, and purposeful mentorship. Dr. Lewis also received a BS (’79) from UC Davis. He has influenced thousands of veterinary students, veterinary interns, and residents, mentored and coached faculty, many of whom are now considered leaders in the specialty of veterinary orthopedic medicine. Dr. Lewis has a sustained history of educating and giving back to the veterinary profession, through continuing education, leadership in professional organizations, or mentoring academic surgeons. As Professor & Eminent Scholar & Chair, and Orthopedic Surgery Service Chief at the University of Florida, he is a wonderful, caring, person to his trainees, colleagues, family, friends, and acquaintances. He has touched many lives within his career and he loves reflecting on how his time at UC Davis set the path for his successful future.

Susan White

Susan White DVM (’73). Dr. White is honored for exemplary service to equine veterinary medicine and veterinary education. Dr. White also completed a BS (’71) at UC Davis. She has served the veterinary profession with dedication and excellence over the last fifty years. In an era when women were not only a minority in veterinary medicine, but essentially nonexistent in large animal veterinary medicine, Dr. White was a pioneer. Through the education of veterinarians worldwide and her pivotal roles in the early years of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) and the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), Dr. White brought large animal internal medicine to thousands of veterinarians. She played a pivotal role in the original research that led to the establishment of the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) rules for equestrian competitions. After her 2006 “retirement”, Dr. White received the ACVIM Robert W. Kirk Award for Professional Excellence (2009), served as ACVIM President (2017), and served on the AAEP Board of Directors. Recipient of the AAEP’s Distinguished Service Award (2008), AAEP Distinguished Lifetime Member Award (2020), and an AAEP My Mentor Honoree, Dr. White continues to provide world class continuing education.

Erik Wisner

Erik Wisner DVM (’83), Diagnostic Imaging Residency (’92). Dr. Wisner is recognized for advancing the specialty of veterinary diagnostic imaging and for his administrative leadership. He has been a pillar of the veterinary diagnostic imaging community throughout his career, contributing to development of new research, embracing new technology, and advancing development of the diagnostic imaging residency training program. He is one of the most respected and accomplished radiologists in the world with an international reach and impact. Dr. Wisner began his career with a joint appointment with the School of Medicine (Radiology) and School of Veterinary Medicine (1992-1997; 2001-2020). He brought helical CT (2001), high field MRI (2002), and the first PACS to the VMTH. His vision for the future of cross-sectional and digital imaging ensured UC Davis was on the forefront of advancing diagnostic imaging. Dr. Wisner also advanced clinical and comparative medicine by bridging the SVM, SOM and Biomedical Engineering. He served as the Cancer Center Director of the Animal Imaging Shared Resource, and was the inaugural Director of the Veterinary Center for Clinical Trials. He served as Associate Hospital Director for Imaging Services (2004-2019), and oversaw the significant changes and complexities with managing a large number of imaging modalities. Dr. Wisner remains creative and collegial in finding ways to better serve the community and the VMTH, including overseeing design and construction of the All Species Imaging Facility.

To learn more about these accolades and view past recipients, visit our awards site.

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