Alumni to Present at Fall Conference for Veterinarians

Oct 3, 2017 / Alumni News / Alumni Profiles / General News

vet med alumni

The annual College of Veterinary Medicine Fall Conference will be held at the iHotel and Conference Center on October 26-27. This year’s keynote speaker is alumnus Congressman Kurt Schrader (DVM ’77), who is currently serving his fifth term in the United States House of Representatives.

Alumni Speakers

  • Dr. Sally Foote

    Dr. Sally FooteWhat is your current position and how long have you held it?
    Owner and head veterinarian at Okaw Veterinary Clinic Tuscola Il since 1988 (29 years). Executive Director Cattledog Publishing for two years.

    What is your favorite memory from veterinary school?
    Being carded by Chris Lendman to prove I was old enough to be in veterinary school. (I was 20 years old, so not old enough for other things!)

    What are you looking forward to at this year’s Fall Conference?
    Helping practitioners, technicians, and students learn how to use Low Stress Handling in daily practice easily.

    What is the most memorable/unique aspect of your career so far? Or, what are you most proud of in your career?
    Being asked to lead Dr. Sophia Yin’s company, Cattledog Publishing. Dr. Sophia and I were friends and kindred spirits in writing, speaking, and creating products to reduce fear, anxiety, and aggression during veterinary care.

    What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
    Hiking at state parks, knitting, getting together with friends, visiting my sister in Switzerland.

    What makes a great veterinary conference?
    An open-forum type presentation where discussion with the audience is encouraged about the topic being presented.

  • Dr. Anne Barger

    Dr. Anne BargerWhat is your current position and how long have you held it?
    Clinical Professor and Section Head of clinical pathology; I’ve been a faculty member for 15 years at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine.

    What are you looking forward to at this year’s Fall Conference?
    Seeing old friends!

    What is the most unique/memorable aspect of your career so far? Or, what are you most proud of in your career?
    In the past two years, I have published two books, one for veterinarians and one for veterinary technicians.

    What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
    Hiking with my dogs and playing golf.

    Do you have any animals?
    I have three dogs and a cat; one of my dogs was just diagnosed with insulinoma.

    Besides speaking at this year’s Fall Conference, how do you stay connected to the College of Veterinary Medicine?
    It’s hard not to, I’m here every day! The students keep me connected!

  • Dr. Aaron Smiley

    Dr. Aaron SmileyWhat is your current position and how long have you held it?
    I am currently a Chief of Staff Advisor for VetCor in Indiana. I have had that position since 2016. I also serve as Chief of Staff for Devonshire Veterinary Clinic since 2010 and Chief of Staff of Geist Station Veterinary Clinic since 2017.

    What are you looking forward to at this year’s Fall Conference?
    I am looking forward to the round table discussion about work/life balance.

    What is the most unique/memorable aspect of your career so far? Or, what are you most proud of in your career?
    I am proud of the work environment we are creating. It is a place where people strive to love their work and love their coworkers.

    What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
    I like to listen to audiobooks. I have a subscription to audible.com and love to walk the dogs and listen to a book.

    Do you have any animals?
    I have two dogs and a cat.

    What makes a great veterinary conference experience?
    Learning new things. I want to leave with new ideas and practices.

  • Dr. Stephen Juriga

    Dr. Stephen JurigaWhat is your current position?
    Owner of River Heights Veterinary Hospital.

    What is your favorite memory from veterinary school?
    Super Bowl Shuffle “skit” for the talent show.

    What is the most unique/memorable aspect of your career so far? Or, what are you most proud of in your career?
    The variety of cases with their own unique challenges at the Brookfield Zoo. Lions, tigers, bears, gorillas, otters….

    What are you looking forward to at this year’s Fall Conference?
    Visiting a few pre-veterinary and current veterinary students that have worked or had an internship at my hospital. Plus my 30-year reunion, now I’m getting old!

    Do you have any animals?
    Three dogs and our newest golden retriever rescue, Sperry.

    What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
    Mountain biking, running, and family time.

  • Dr. Peter Weinstein

    Dr. Peter WeinsteinWhat is your current position?
    President of Simple Solutions for Pets; owner of PAW consulting; executive director at Southern California Veterinary Medical Association.

    What is your favorite memory from veterinary school?
    Dr. Small and his cigar roaming the Small Animal Clinic halls.

    What is the most unique/memorable aspect of your career so far? Or, what are you most proud of in your career?
    Being involved with organized veterinary medicine and trying to help lead the profession into a better future.

    What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
    Hanging out with my wife and kids, watching sports (any sport) live or on TV, traveling.

    Do you have any animals?
    Currently only one dog, Wiblet, a 7 1/2-year old Schnug (Schnauzer-pug).

    Besides speaking at this year’s Fall Conference, how do you stay connected to the College of Veterinary Medicine?
    I am in touch regularly with the Advancement unit, looking for ways to contribute. I read whenever I can about the school and my classmates.

  • Dr. Ken Welle

    Dr. Kenneth Welle

    What is your current position?
    Clinical Assistant Professor of Zoo Med at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine.

    What is your favorite memory from veterinary school?
    Working in the wildlife ward is my best memory from vet school.

    What is the most unique/memorable aspect of your career so far? Or, what are you most proud of in your career?
    The most memorable aspect of my career is working with vet students. They continually challenge me.

    What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
    Outside of work, I like to do trail running.

    Do you have any animals?
    I currently have two macaws, six chickens, and two turtles.

    Besides speaking at this year’s Fall Conference, how do you stay connected to the College of Veterinary Medicine?
    I’m very connected with the CVM because I work there daily!

  • Dr. Michael Biehl

    Dr. Mike BiehlWhat is your current position?
    Clinical Professor of Toxicology at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine.

    What is your favorite memory from veterinary school?
    Our class had great comradery. A LOT of enjoyable times spent together outside of class!!

    What is the most unique/memorable aspect of your career so far? Or, what are you most proud of in your career?
    My 17 years at Pfizer in various R&D responsibilities has been the most enjoyable aspect of my career.

    What are you looking forward to at this year’s Fall Conference?
    Seeing old classmates, my former students, and other friends.

  • Dr. Miranda Vieson

    Dr. Miranda ViesonWhat is your current position and how long have you held it?
    Clinical Assistant Professor of Pathobiology at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. I have held this position for one year.

    What is your favorite memory from veterinary school?
    One of the many favorite memories I have from veterinary school is chasing two angry Belted Galloway cows around the main campus during my fourth-year food rotation, for two hours, requiring the assistance of the university police, the SWAT team, and the local zoo veterinarian. It culminated in news coverage during prime time and got a few interesting YouTube videos from onlookers on campus. The cows were presented that day for a simple hoof trim….

    What is the most unique/memorable aspect of your career so far? Or, what are you most proud of in your career?
    Things in my career I am most proud of—passing all sections of my ACVP board exam on the first try, finishing my phD despite starting over again halfway through then starting my first job six months before I defended my dissertation, and being very happy with my first job out of school here at the university.

    Do you have any animals?
    I have two adorable, spoiled-rotten Maltese dogs that are 10 years old. I acquired them when they were seven weeks old and they’ve been with me in three different states and through veterinary school, residency, a PhD program, and multiple huge exams. Life wouldn’t be the same without them!

    What makes a great veterinary conference experience?
    A good conference experience to me is catching up with colleagues, networking, learning at least one important thing regarding my work, and seeing a few good heated (but reasonable!) discussions on controversial topics.

  • Dr. Julia Whittington

    Dr. Julia WhittingtonWhat is your current position?
    Medical director of Wildlife Medical Clinic; Clinical Professor of Veterinary Clinical Medicine; and Wildlife and Exotics Extension Veterinarian, Office of Public Engagement at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine.

    What is your favorite memory from veterinary school?
    One of my classmates was a male stripper in his past life so he led the guys in my class in a dance to the Village People song, “YMCA,” in honor of another classmate’s engagement.

    What is the most unique/memorable aspect of your career so far? Or, what are you most proud of in your career?
    I’m very proud of what the zoo med program at the College of Vet Med has become. We are leaders in post-graduate training and in our wildlife care.

    What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
    I love to cook. Generally, what I make tastes good; it just doesn’t always look that appealing.

    Do you have any animals?
    I have a dog that came from junior surgery and two cats that were strays. Usually there is a random guinea pig around.

    What are you looking forward to at this year’s Fall Conference?
    I love Fall Conference because I get to reconnect with our alumni and my classmates while listening to a great group of speakers.

  • Dr. Sonya Gordon

    What is your current position and how long have you held it?
    20 years as an academic veterinary cardiologist.

    What is your favorite memory from veterinary school?
    Getting in!

    What is the most unique/memorable aspect of your career so far? Or, what are you most proud of in your career?
    I’m the lead investigator on the EPIC study.

    What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
    Triathlons and dog walking.

    Do you have any animals?
    4 dogs and 2 cats.

  • Dr. Mark Ernst

    What is your current position and how long have you held it?
    I am the State Veterinarian and have held this position since 2005.

    What are you looking forward to at this year’s Fall Conference?
    The opportunity to network with other veterinarians and gain insight into how our Bureau can better serve their needs.

    What is the most unique/memorable aspect of your career so far? Or, what are you most proud of in your career?
    The most unique aspect of my career is the wide variety of issues that we must address. My duties range from managing state animal health and welfare programs to licensing animal-related entities and proposing changes to our statutes and regulations.

    What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
    Hunting and fishing.

    Do you have any animals?
    Two dogs, a black lab and a basset hound.

    Besides speaking at this year’s Fall Conference, how do you stay connected to the College of Veterinary Medicine?
    My position at the Department of Agriculture necessitates frequent interaction with a variety of faculty at the College, both at the clinics and the VDL.

  • Dr. Christopher Stauthammer

    What is your current position?
    Associate professor, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences

    What is your favorite memory from veterinary school?
    My favorite memory was spending hours with “Da Warriors,” my anatomy group.

    What are you looking forward to at this year’s Fall Conference?
    Seeing the campus as I have not been back since graduation in 2004.

    What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
    Spending time with my 20 month old twins, Sven and Brigitta. I also love just being outdoors, especially on the water.

    Do you have any animals?
    A German short-hair pointer named Squeak.

    What makes a great veterinary conference experience?
    Catching up with old friends – the more people you know at a conference, the better.

  • Dr. Yvette Johnson-Walker

    What is your current position?
    Clinical Epidemiologist

    What is your favorite memory from veterinary school?
    Traveling with classmates to SCAVMA at UC Davis.

    What is the most memorable/unique aspect of your career so far? Or, what are you most proud of in your career?
    I enjoy seeing former students who I have helped in some way progressing in their careers.

    What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
    Traveling with family and friends.

    Do you have any animals?
    An elderly dog named Tucker and an elderly cat named Friskies.

    Besides speaking at this year’s Fall Conference, how do you stay connected to the College of Veterinary Medicine?
    I have the privilege of working here every day and I try to keep in touch with former classmates and students.

  • Dr. Chelsey Ramirez

    What is your current position and how long have you held it?
    I recently transitioned back into private practice in Milledgeville, IL, after spending 5 years as an instructor in the food animal department at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine.  I currently also hold a position as an adjunct instructor through the University.

    What are you looking forward to at this year’s Fall Conference? 
    I am looking forward to the continued networking with alumni and hearing updates from the college all while picking up practical diagnostic and treatment tools and tips that I can take back to my practice.

    What is the most memorable/unique aspect of your career so far? Or, what are you most proud of in your career?
    So far, I would have to say I’m really pretty proud of my contributions as a faculty member at the University and the impact I was able to have on students

    What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
    Spending time with family and friends, being outside and on the water.

    Do you have any animals?
    I currently have 2 dogs, Chula and Chavo, and a cat named Homie.

    What makes a great veterinary conference experience?
    Catching up with old classmates and students I’ve taught. In addition, I get really excited when I learn something that I can take home and apply immediately.