Wildlife veterinarian named Virginia Tech College of Science Outstanding Doctoral Student

BLACKSBURG, Va., April 16, 2010 – M. Camille Harris has been named Outstanding Doctoral Student for 2009-10 in Virginia Tech's College of Science.

Harris, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in disease ecology in the Department of Biological Sciences in the College of Science, came to the university in fall 2007 with a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University, a master’s degree in veterinary medical sciences, and a doctor of veterinary medicine from Mississippi State University. Her research focuses on how timber harvesting can impact the dynamics of a mosquito-borne virus found in hardwood forests.

“Camille’s dissertation research is novel, inter-disciplinary, and of broader importance for public health,” said Dana M. Hawley, assistant professor of biological sciences and Harris’s advisor. “Her work requires extensive field and lab work. She has delved into new fields, often self-taught, with a level of initiative and enthusiasm that I have not previously observed among any student with whom I have worked.”

Harris has numerous experiences in veterinary clinics and a variety of training and practical experiences with wild- and zoo-animal medicine, including a residency with the Smithsonian (the National Zoo) and internships in Virginia and South Africa. In addition, she has authored four peer-reviewed publications and been an invited speaker for a dozen presentations at scientific meetings.

Last fall, Harris received a graduate fellowship from the National Institutes of Health to help her pursue her studies.

“Camille’s credentials are amazingly strong and diverse,” said Robert Jones, professor and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences. “I believe she has real star potential.”

Harris has earned excellent ratings as a teaching assistant in freshman biology labs, is credentialed in veterinary medicine in both Mississippi and Virginia, and is a member of honorary societies for veterinary medicine and agriculture.

“Camille’s determination to pursue her dreams, despite the vast amount of education required for such an inter-disciplinary career goal, has always impressed me,” Hawley said. “She is well-positioned to become a truly outstanding wildlife health professor.”

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