Skip to the content

Kansas State University


The official newsletter of the College of Veterinary Medicine

Lifelines logo

June 2010 - Vol. 5, No. 6

Top Stories

RadiographsRadiographs prove to be revealing

Dr. Laura Armbrust researches beneficial role of thoracic radiographs in pet health exams.
How do thoracic radiographs help?

Finding ferrets in Western Kansas

Drs. Carpenter and Phair lend assistance to preservation efforts for endangered species.
Why did they round up ferrets?

First graduates of rural training program

The CVM graduates the first five scholars from the Veterinary Training Program for Rural Kansas.
Where are they going?

Class of 2010 enjoys its commencement

Sharon Slack gets a pat on the back

CVM recognizes top employees

Farewell to Dr. Freeman

Ice Cream Social promotes Pet Tribute program

Library serves up finals treat

Find us on Facebook

Regular features

Dr. Jennifer AkersUnder the Microscope
Meet Dr. Jennifer Akers, Clinical Instructor, Pet Health Center

Check it Out at the Library
Welcome New Staff Member Nancy McFarlin

News Ticker

Calendar of events

New Arrivals/Recent Departures

Lifelines back issues

Hard copy version of Lifelines (printable)
Note: File is in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format.
Some documents are in PDF format.
Click here to get Acrobat Reader

Thoracic radiographs reveal helpful pet health information

K-State biology undergrad helps Dr. Laura Armbrust with promising research project

Dr. Laura Armbrust

Pets need regular veterinary check-ups as they age. Research in the CVM suggests a radiographic testing measure proves to be useful in these visits in order to maintain health in older cats and dogs.

Dr. Laura Armbrust, associate professor of radiology (in clinical sciences), and Dakota Chambers, LaCygne, Kan., a sophomore in biology, studied the effectiveness of thoracic radiographs as a screening measure to detect nonclinical disease in geriatric dogs and cats. The study showed this test helped identify significant abnormalities in the observed pets.

"Screening tests are an important part of health care," Dr. Armbrust said. "However, it is important to know the benefit of a particular test to determine if it is indicated in a certain population."

Dr. Armbrust said information about the importance of thoracic radiographs as a screening test for older cats and dogs is lacking in the veterinary literature. A thoracic radiograph looks inside the chest cavity and is particularly useful for finding heart and lung disease.

The researchers wanted to determine the incidence of disease detected on thoracic radiographs of dogs and cats undergoing geriatric screening. The geriatric age for dogs in the study was 7 years and older and for cats who were 11 years and older.

"Pet owners often bring their animals in for regular checkups," Chambers said. "Geriatric screening tests provide a means of early treatment in hopes of curing or slowing the progression of disease."

At the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, senior animals can be enrolled in a program that includes screenings every six to 12 months. Chambers said the exam includes a thorough physical examination, blood work, urinalysis and fecal examination. A thoracic radiograph is included in the 12-month screening.

For their study, Dr. Armbrust and Chambers reviewed medical records from the teaching hospital of all dogs and cats that had undergone geriatric screening from May 2005 to September 2009. The data included results from the screening tests, with their main focus on the results from thoracic radiographs. The researchers were most interested in looking for thoracic disease in animals that did not have signs of clinical disease.

"Thoracic radiographs may be helpful in identifying thoracic diseases, even if the animal does not present with any symptoms," Chambers said.

The researchers found that significant thoracic radiographic abnormalities were present in 17 percent of the cats in the study and 4 percent of the dogs. Chambers said examples of diseases that were identified were cardiac enlargement and lung disease.

"These findings provided information that was useful in the management of these cases," she said.

Chambers presented the findings at K-State's Developing Scholars Research Poster Symposium in April. She plans to get a master's in biology or zoology and focus on the study of animals.



Dr. Xiangyang Huang, Dr. Qingbo Wang and Dr. Jishu Shi
Dakota Chambers presents her research poster on thoracic
radiographs at K-State's Developing Scholars Research Poster
Symposium in April.

Rounding up black-footed ferrets in western Kansas

Drs. Carpenter and Phair lend assistance to preservation efforts for endangered species

Drs. James W. Carpenter and Kristen Phair, zoological medicine, recently participated in the semi-annual black-footed ferret round-up near Russell Springs in Logan County (western Kansas). The black-footed ferret is the nation's most endangered mammal, and at one time was thought to be extinct.

Dr. Carpenter had overseen the U.S. government's endangered species (including black-footed ferrets) captive propagation program prior to coming to K-State in 1990. When he was invited to participate in the round-up of the black-footed ferrets, Dr. Carpenter said he viewed it as his work with this rare species was coming "full circle."

Black-footed ferrets were introduced into western Kansas more than two years ago. Although the actual number of ferrets in the release site is not known, 35 ferrets were live-trapped over an eight-day period this last March. This includes eight that were live-trapped on the evening that Dr. Carpenter participated (unfortunately, none were trapped on the evening that Dr. Phair participated).

Capturing ferrets involves using spot-lights attached to vehicles and searching from "dusk till dawn," looking for a ferret's "eye-shine." Once eye-shine is spotted, a team drives to the prairie dog burrow in which the ferret is residing and sets a trap. The trap is checked at least every hour throughout the night until the animal is, hopefully, caught.

Following capture, the ferret is taken to a small trailer which is set-up for veterinary use. The ferret is anesthetized via a chamber with isoflurane. While anesthetized, the animal is examined, weighed, vaccinated, blood is obtained, samples of ectoparasites are obtained, and a transponder chip is surgically implanted. Once the ferret's examination is completed and it has recovered from anesthesia, it is released in the exact same burrow where it was trapped.

Although the decimation of the ferret population was a result of habitat destruction, prairie dog control programs, and agricultural land-use changes, Dr. Carpenter said it is encouraging the species is making a come-back in Kansas. This is the first time in 50 years there have been black-footed ferrets born in Kansas.

"Eye-Shine" is used to locate ferrets
"Eye-shine" is used to help locate black-footed ferrets that live in prairie dog burrows.
Dr. Carpenter examines one of the captured ferrets
Dr. Carpenter obtains a culture sample during an examination.
Dr. Carpenter prepares to vaccinate a ferret
Dr. Carpenter prepares to administer a vaccination on one of the captured ferrets.


Dr. Kristen Phair examines the abdomen on a European ferret, which serves as a medical model for treating black-footed ferrets.

Rural veterinary program graduates its first class

Nick Luke, Brock Hanel, Trent Glick and Kyle Berning.
The 2010 class of VTPRK graduates are: Nick Luke, Brock Hanel, Jessica Whitehill-Winter, Trent Glick and Kyle Berning.

"If you build it, they will come" says the catchphrase in the film "Field of Dreams." In real life, the state of Kansas decided that if you educate them, they will stay — in rural Kansas — where there has been a shortage of veterinarians to serve producers and small towns.

This year's graduating class in the College of Veterinary Medicine included the first five graduates of the Veterinary Training Program for Rural Kansas (VTPRK). This was the program passed by the state legislature in 2006 to provide a financial incentive to bring new veterinarians to rural areas.

VTPRK participants are eligible for up to $20,000 in loans per year to pay for college expenses and advanced training. Upon completion of their DVM, each student is required to work in a full-time veterinary practice located in any of 91 Kansas counties with less than 35,000 residents. For each year the student works in rural Kansas (up to four years), $20,000 worth of loans will be forgiven by the state.

"This funding from the VTPRK is going to alleviate some of the pressures off of us to find the high-paying jobs needed to repay our student loans," Trent Glick said. "We’re able to go to a rural community and maybe take a little less money so we can still pursue our goals." Trent, who is originally from southeast Kansas, has accepted a job in Oberlin.

Each student in the VTPRK is required to participate in additional activities beyond what is required for their veterinary degrees. The scholars spend their summer breaks learning about foreign-animal disease preparedness, natural disaster preparedness, rural sociology and public health.

Brock Hanel, from Courtland, said, "I have been able to see different parts of the United States and see how different levels of agriculture and the livestock industry is utilized. It gave me a greater appreciation for rural America." Brock is planning to work in his father's practice in Courtland. Dr. Lannie Hanel earned his DVM from K-State in 1971.

Jessica Whitehill-Winter hasn't accepted a position yet, as she is expecting a baby in August. She plans to interview for jobs and then start working after the baby arrives.

"The VTPRK has allowed me to pursue my career as well as my dream of raising my family in small community like my parents did for me," she said. Jessica is from Latham in Cowley County. "I have sent resumes to a 90-mile radius from where Mom and Dad live. It's great to be able to go back home and have the financial assistance from the VTPRK, but it's also very nice to know I’ll be serving an area that needs it."

Nick Luke plans to work in Beloit, which is also where he grew up. He is thankful for the advanced training provided in the VTPRK.

"This program has brought us in contact with people who have been involved with researching and responding to foreign animal diseases," he said. "We've made connections with the people who are going to be running the response programs."

Kyle Berning added, "Going to Iowa our sophomore year and taking part in the regional USDA surveillance testing center was a pretty good experience. Some of the diagnostics and sample taking that we practiced the last four years will definitely come in handy." Kyle, who is originally from Lakin, has accepted a position in Scott City.

Dean Ralph Richardson said he's proud of this year's graduates and is extremely pleased to see the VTPRK making an impact in Kansas.

"We are dedicated to supporting the livestock industry and believe veterinarians create a positive influence on communities of all sizes, particular small rural communities," he said. "This year's graduates are going to make an immediate difference in the communities where they will be working. These graduates bring a great skill set to rural areas, especially with what they've learned about foreign-animal diseases and public health. With more VTPRK classes following this one, the future looks bright for rural Kansas."



Class of 2010 enjoys commencement ceremony

Congratulations to the class of 2010. Here are some photos from this year's commencement.

The new Dr. Cameron Duncan
Cameron Duncan receives his doctoral hood.
Stephanie Schneider sings the national anthem
Stephanie Schneider , class of 2011, sings the national anthem at the beginning of the commencement ceremony.
Dr. Dan Thomson delivers the commencement address
Dr. Dan Thomson delivers the commencement address.
President Schulz confers the DVM degree
Dr. Kirk Schulz, the president of K-State, confers the doctor of veterinary medicine degree to the class of 2010.
Dr. Mary Ellen Sutton and Dr. Ronnie Elmore
Dr. Ronnie Elmore, right, presents a gift to Dr. Mary Ellen Sutton, keyboard professor in the Department of Music. Dr. Sutton has played the organ at veterinary commencements for 36 years and is retiring after this year.



Centennial Plaza bricks ad



Sharon Slack gets a pat on the back

For Sharon Slack, CVM custodial specialist, there is no "I" in team. Despite being singled out by her colleagues for her cheerful demeanor and unflagging work ethic, Slack insisted on sharing a very unique award with her co-workers.

She was nominated by Lesa and Rob Reves for a "Caught in the Act of Doing Good" award presented through the K-State Facilities office. Dean Ralph Richardson presented the award as a surprise during a CVM facilities staff meeting in May.

In their nomination letter, Lesa and Rob wrote, "Sharon really epitomizes the 'Special' in her job title every day in the Veterinary medical Teaching Hospital. She always has a warm 'Hello!' for everyone as she makes her daily rounds. Sharon is always interested in seeing to the well-being of her fellow employees, clinicians, students and clients. She is willing to take on any task no matter how large or small, to make the day flow smoothly for the rest of the Veterinary Medical Hospital Teaching staff. Often she is called away from routine tasks, breaks or lunch to take care of some jobs which others found too onerous to perform. At these 'crisis' times, Sharon is always cheerful and quick to resolve the situation. If the job proves too big for one person, Sharon quickly drafts other custodial staff members with whom she shares a great rapport.

"During her over 30 years of service with Facilities at Kansas State University, Sharon has spent 24 of those years employed at the KSU veterinary medical complex.This record of service illustrates her unceasing attention to the daily details of keeping the facility clean and the staff satisfied."

Dean Richardson mentioned Slack's work, as well as the entire CVM facilities staff, as playing an important role in presenting the College of Veterinary Medicine at its best during the recent accreditation visit. Congratulations, Sharon, for getting caught in the act of doing good!


Lesa Reves, Sharon Slack and Rob Reves
Sharon Slack, center, displays her 'Caught in the Act of Doing Good' award with co-workers Lesa and Rob Reves, who nominated Sharon for the award.
Sharon Slack and Dean Ralph Richardson
Dean Ralph Richardson presents the award


CVM employees earn spotlight

The College of Veterinary Medicine employees earned a variety of awards in May for years of service and for those selected in their departments as the employees of the year. Here are pictures of the individuals who were honored this year. Not pictured are: Yvonne Bachura, DM/P, five years of services; David George, DM/P, 15 years of service; Pamela Pace, KSVDL, 25 years of service; and Sharon “Shon” Koenig, DM/P, and Bonnie Thompson, A&P, both retired in 2009. Congratulations!

Jen Fleeker and Cindy Bryant
Jen Fleeker with her five-year service award and Cindy Bryant with her 25-year service award.
Amy Juracek
Amy Juracek shows her 15-year service award



Lesa Reves, Rob Reves, and Lisa Bryant
Lesa Reves and Rob Reves, classified senators present Lisa Bryant with a five-year service award
Employees of the Year
Employees of the Year: Xiaorong Shi, DM/P, unclassified; Jenny Cain, A&P, classified; and Maureen Kerrigan, DM/P, classified.
Dave Adams and Dean Richardson
Dean Ralph Richardson (right) congratulates Dave Adams, photographer, for 35 years of service.
Dr. Fingland snaps a shot of Dave Adams
Turnabout is fair play. Dr. Roger Fingland, associate dean for Clinical Programs and director of the VMTH, takes a quick opportunity to turn the tables on CVM photographer Dave Adams. Smile Dave!


Farewell to Dr. Freeman

The CVM bids a fond farewell to Dr. Lisa Freeman, who has accepted a position as vice president of research at Northern Illinois University. She was most recently associate vice president for innovation, K-State Olathe Innovation Campus. Congratulations and good luck, Dr. Freeman!

Jenny Cain, Dr. Lisa Freeman and Dr. Barb Lutjemeier
Jenny Cain and Barb Lutjemeier join Dr. Lisa Freeman before cutting the cake.
Dr. Blecha and Dr. Freeman
Dr. Frank Blecha presents a K-State gift basket as a going away present to Dr. Freeman.


Dr. Freeman visits with friends
Dr. Lisa Freeman visits with Drs. M.M. Chengappa and David Renter at the farewell reception.


Ice Cream Social highlights Pet Tribute

Pet Tribute hosted its annual Ice Cream Social May 7. The social helps raise awareness for Pet Tribute.

Sarah Guengerich serves a scoop of ice cream
Third-year student Sarah Guengerich helps dish out a scoop of ice cream to one of the guests.
Deciding whether to have a banana ...


Ice cream sundae
The perfect ice cream sundae?
Michael Harris, Jason Crowder and Noel Kramer say okay to the ice cream social.
Michael Harris, Jason Crowder and Noel Kramer say okay to the ice cream social.

Library serves up finals treat

The Veterinary Medical Library offered a special treat during finals week: free peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Lauren Bodenhamer and Victoria Countner
First-year students Lauren Bodenhamerand Victoria Countner stop by for a quick snack.


Peanut Butter table


Find us on Facebook

The College of Veterinary Medicine has created its own official Facebook page. We'll be using it to help promote the activities and events, as well as provide a starting point for alumni, students, faculty and staff to connect with each other. Please visit and click the "Like" button. You can search for us by name: Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Click here to link to the CVM Facebook page.

Facebook page


Under the Microscope

Dr. Jennifer Akers, Clinical Instructor, Pet Health Center

Dr. Jennifer Akers

Hometown: Anita, Iowa

Family Information: Husband, Brian Lubbers; daughter, Olivia , 6 years old; and son, Brock, 20 months old.

Pets: Indoor cat, Yanni; outdoor cat, Boots; dog, Copper; and horses, Jack and Shadow; and chickens.

What is something interested or something that people don’t know about you? I played 6-on-6 basketball in high school (Iowa switched to only 5-on-5 two years after I graduated). I was a fairly intense player, and thus I earned the nickname, “The Intimidator.” However, I played only defense, and cannot shoot baskets well to this day.

What is an experience that made you stop and think? My mom died of cancer at the age of 52. I saw the company she had worked full time for 20 years simply hire someone else after she was gone. Their progress was not affected, but I couldn’t get a new mom. This realization has influenced the value I place on time with my kids and decisions I make between work and family.

What projects are you working on, work or personal? My family and I moved to an acreage recently. There is never a shortage of things to do! I am helping my daughter learn to ride a pony this summer, and I am hoping she and I can enjoy some trail rides together soon.

Now that the semester is over, what are some activities you’re looking forward to doing that you couldn’t do during the school year? Under the Microscope logoBeing home with the kids two days a week (I work part time at KSU VMTH), and doing fun summer stuff like swimming, hiking, horseback riding. I also like to play volleyball, and I may be playing sand volleyball this summer.

Who is somebody you remember on Memorial Day? My mom.

What are some words of advice you give to the graduating seniors? Work hard while you are working; give it your full attention and ability. Then, at the end of the day, go home and enjoy what is really important: your family and friends. In years to come, when you are leaving this world, you probably won’t wish you would have worked more.

Who is somebody whose advice you’re thankful for? I have found that the best advice comes from the Bible. I am thankful for what it teaches, and that I have the access to it and the freedom to read it.



Check it Out at the Library

Welcome New Staff Member Nancy McFarlin

While saying goodbye to Hava Nauss, who recently moved to Virginia with her husband Dr. Jon Nauss, a 2010 graduate from the College of Veterinary Medicine, we welcome Nancy McFarlin in the library assistant III position. Nancy worked several weeks with Hava to learn the multitude of jobs Hava did for the library. Nancy will supervise student assistants and handle veterinary student requests as well as maintain services at the information desk. She will also perform many other library functions such as collection maintenance and reference services at the information deskNancy McFarlin.

Most of us at the library knew Nancy from her previous years as a librarian at K-State’s Hale Library. She comes to us most recently from Wamego (Kan.) High School where she was the director of its library. Nancy graduated from Ft. Hays State University with a major in English education and minor in library science. She received her master’s degree in library science from Emporia State University and a doctorate in education from K-State. Nancy has experience in teaching, school libraries and academic libraries. Nancy loves to read and garden. She has two daughters: Becky and Jennifer, and two cats: Linus and “T.”

Nancy’s university experience and dedication to public service provide an excellent background for her new position at the Veterinary Medical Library. She brings to the job great attention to detail and an interest in always learning how things work. Nancy says although she hasn’t worked in either a veterinary or medical library, she is eager to learn about veterinary medical topics and meet the new students, faculty and staff at the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Please visit the Veterinary Medical Library Web site: for help on this and other subjects.


News Ticker

Dr. Heather Towle

Dr. Heather Towle was selected by the senior students for Excellence in Teaching during the Clinical Training Program.She is an assistant professor in small animal surgery in Clinical Sciences.

Dr. Frank Blecha has recently been appointed as the CVM's new Interim Associate Dean for Research. He will be wearing two hats: department head of Anatomy and Physiology as well as associate dean.

Dr. Roman Ganta was invited to serve on the Review Editorial Board Frontiers in Cellular Microbiology, which is a specialty section of Frontiers in Microbiology, a journal that publishes major and in-depth research findings focused on host-microbe interactions that decipher these interactions from a molecular, biochemical, cell biological or immunological perspective.

Dr. T.G. Nagaraja has been approved by the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious diseases to be the new director of the Veterinary Medicine Training Program at K-State. He replaces Dr. Lisa Freeman who has accepted a new position as vice president of research at Northern Illinois University.

Dr. James W. Carpenter was named the 2010 Western Veterinary Conference Avian & Exotics Continuing Educator of the Year.

Dr. David C. Poole

Dr. David C. Poole was given the 2010 Pfizer Award for Research Excellence. He is a professor in the Department of Anatomay and Physiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine and in the Department of Kinesiology in the College of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Poole is recognized internationally for his contributions to the fields of pulmonary gas exchange and skeletal muscle structure/function relationships.

Megan Jacob was recognized as the 2010 outstanding Graduate Research Assistant at K-State. The award is given annually by the Kansas Chapter of the Golden Key International Honor Society.

Jacob Hull, junior in biochemistry, was selected by the American Physiological Society has selected a Kansas State University student as a 2010 Undergraduate Student Fellow. He receives a $4,000 stipend to cover living expenses during the 10-week fellowship, which he will serve this summer in the laboratory of Dr. Bruce Schultz, professor of epithelial cell physiology in K-State's department of anatomy and physiology. Hull is one of 24 students worldwide to be named a Fellow. The fellowship program aims to encourage students about careers in biomedical research. Among the selection factors were academic merit and quality of research experience. Hull's research project is "Role of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma on epithelial growth, differentiation and activity" and is related to work done in Dr. Schultz's laboratory on the link between mutations in the cystic fibrosis protein known as CFTR and loss of the male reproductive duct that occurs in cystic fibrosis patients.


Steven Copp was given the Graduate Award for Academics by the K-State Alumni Association. Copp will graduate in December with a doctorate in anatomy and physiology. He also earned a master's degree in 2008 and bachelor's degree in 2006 in kinesiology at K-State. According to his research team leader, Dr. David C. Poole, Copp has shown promise as a scientific researcher in the field of oxygen transport during exercise in health and disease. His laboratory efforts have led to seven abstract presentations at national meetings, as well as seven peer-reviewed publications including five as the primary author. Copp is a graduate teaching assistant in kinesiology where he coordinates the principal undergraduate exercise physiology laboratory experience.

The Kansas State University Alumni Association started this new awards program in recognition of K-State graduates completing master's and doctoral degrees. The two award categories recognize superior academics as well as leadership and service to the university's graduate student community.

Amy Button Renz and Steven Copp
Amy Button Renz, president and CEO of the K-State Alumni Association, presents Steven Copp with the 2010 Graduate Award for Academics.



Calendar of events

June 17-18: 49th Annual North Central Conference of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians*, K-State Alumni Center

July 3-Aug.3: 2010 AVMA Annual Convention, Atlanta

July 31-Aug. 3: 24th Meeting of the American Society for Rickettsiology, Stevenson Washington

Aug. 27: 4th Annual Conference for Care of Llamas and Alpacas, Mara Conference Center*, Trotter Hall

* More information about Veterinary Medical Continuing Education events can be found at the VMCE Web site.


New Arrivals/Recent Departures

Welcome to:

Dr. Matthew Basel - A&P
Dr. Marlene Carla Dinis - A&P
Doris Merrill - DM/P
Glenda Reed - VMTH

Thanks and Goodby to:

Dr. Marco Margiocco - Clinical Sciences
Vangie Rodriguez - KSVDL
Lindsay Baker - KSVDL
Katherine Brower - KSVDL
Hava Nauss
Christina George - VMTH


Lifelines is published each month by the Development and Alumni Affairs Office at the College of Veterinary Medicine.
Editors are Tyler Nelssen, and Joe Montgomery,