Studying animals and humans

Studying animals and humans

Program linking human and animal health produces first grads

By Jill Pease

The inaugural D.V.M./M.P.H. class includes graduates Amanda-Jo Joswig, Laura Kotinsley, Meredith Swart, Jessica Mack, Sara Kaplan-Stein, Jessica McAlpin, Asha George, Laura Diem and Van Brass, shown with Mary Peoples-Sheps, PHHP’s senior associate dean for public health./Photo by Sarah Carey

Every UF graduation is special, but on May 28 nine students had the distinction of being the first graduates of UF’s Doctor of Veterinary Medicine/Master of Public Health joint degree program.

Offered through the colleges of Veterinary Medicine and Public Health and Health Professions, the joint degree program reflects the concept of “one health” — the recognition that human health and animal health are closely intertwined. With their expertise in domestic animal and wildlife health, veterinarians are uniquely qualified to work alongside other health professionals in infectious disease investigation, food production and protection, health education and policy, and global health. The D.V.M./M.P.H. students’ final projects focused on a wide range of subjects, including a study of the prevalence of the bacteria Brucella suis in Florida cattle, implications of a Japanese encephalitis virus outbreak in the United States, and a West Nile virus outbreak investigation, to name a few.

UF’s joint degree program was spearheaded by Paul Gibbs, Ph.D., B.V.Sc., the College of Veterinary Medicine’s associate dean for students and instruction, and Mary Peoples-Sheps, Dr.P.H., PHHP’s senior associate dean for public health. As UF College of Veterinary Medicine alumni and graduate students in the M.P.H. program, Tara Anderson, D.V.M., M.P.H., Ph.D., and Traci Krueger, D.V.M., M.P.H., performed the program’s initial needs assessment. Anderson served on the D.V.M./M.P.H. program committee and helped draft the original program proposal. Krueger now serves as the program’s coordinator.

“Both colleges are very proud of this first cohort of D.V.M./M.P.H. students. Not only did they enthusiastically take on the challenge of completing an additional degree, but they also contributed greatly to the success of the joint program,” said Anderson, a postdoctoral research associate at the College of Veterinary Medicine.

The inaugural class made important contributions to the program, said Krueger, a clinical assistant professor in the department of epidemiology.

“The D.V.M./M.P.H. students established the Public Health and Service Club in order to inform other students about veterinary public health, learn more about current public health issues, offer networking opportunities, and provide disaster response training,” she said. “Current and future D.V.M./M.P.H. students will no doubt continue to benefit from and expand upon their efforts with this organization.”

For more information about the D.V.M./M.P.H. joint degree program at the University of Florida, please visit