Our new Experience Learning initiative recognizes that learning is enhanced—and more enjoyable—when lessons are used to experiment, solve problems, and innovate. It challenges faculty to look for new and creative ways to work with students. As part of Faculty Appreciation Week 2016, here is a look at two College of Veterinary Medicine faculty members who “go the extra mile” in their teaching, research, and outreach.
As a child, Jeff Biskup was always drawn to the field of veterinary medicine. Although he didn’t have any pets while growing up, he did spend hours fishing and looking at wildlife with his grandfather back in Canada.
An assistant professor, Biskup received his bachelor’s degree at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and then completed his veterinary degree at Ontario Veterinary College. After completing his training in Minnesota and Illinois, Biskup came to UT in 2013.
“I wanted to come to UT because the school was very welcoming,” he said. “The people I met were willing to answer my questions, and UT was very accommodating to my interests.”
Although his clinical interest is in soft tissue and orthopedic surgery, Biskup enjoys the variety of his work. Within a span of four days, he could be on clinicals with students, performing surgery, talking to animal owners, or conducting research.
Veterinary medicine has been progressing at a phenomenal rate over the past decade, said Biskup, who now has two cats and two lizards as pets. As animal owners become more educated on new human procedures, they look for similar procedures to help their pets.
One example, Biskup said, is UT’s work in advancing total hip replacement in dogs.
Jim Thompson, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, said Biskup is a gifted surgeon and teacher.
“Jeff has the rare ability to explain complicated procedures in easily understood words,” Thompson said. “He relates exceptionally well to our students and provides mentorship which makes our students better. His leadership qualities are excellent and his openness to try new approaches to better teach our students is wonderful.”
Biskup said he especially enjoys teaching reproductive and orthopedic classes.
He said he channels his own college days and borrows tips from the professors he found most effective.
“It is great when students are excited about surgery. It makes me really happy to see them engaged and interested about a topic.”
Katie Tolbert didn’t always want to be a veterinarian.
“I thought I wanted to be a human doctor,” said Tolbert, an assistant professor. “It wasn’t until I went to Berry College that I realized I wanted to switch to animal science.”
An assistant professor, Tolbert received her bachelor’s degree from Berry and then went on to earn her veterinary degree at the University of Georgia in 2006. Following a medical internship at UGA, she pursued her small animal internal medicine residency as well as a doctorate in comparative biomedical sciences at North Carolina State University.
Tolbert made her way to UT in March 2013.
She said she was attracted to UT because it is an excellent school with a strong commitment to teaching and a well respected internal medicine program.
Tolbert said she chose teaching and research over private practice because she loves coming across questions on the clinic floor that she can answer through her research.
“Thankfully, an academic position allows me the time to pursue the answers to these endless clinical questions,” she said. “Time is a bit of a rarity in private practice.”
A small-animal internist, Tolbert works to learn more about animal diseases and safe new treatment options. Her research interest lies in the field of gastroenterology, with specific emphases on the treatment of acid-related diseases in dogs and cats and in finding novel therapies and diagnostic tools for feline trichomonosis, a protozoan infection that causes large bowel inflammation, typically in young cats.
With three dogs of her own—a pug, a Staffordshire terrier, and a golden retriever—Tolbert enjoys interacting with pet owners and explaining what is going on with their pets’ health.
Thompson said Tolbert has a passion for education and an unwavering commitment to excellence.
“She is one of our most collegial faculty members, and her efforts to push forward biomedical science knowledge to provide better treatment options for animals and people are spectacular,” he said. “It is an honor to have her as one of our developing junior faculty members.”
Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, firstname.lastname@example.org)