College of Veterinary Medicine

From the Dean


by Bryan 12. January 2012 18:37

Happy New Year everyone.  It is not really the result of a New Year's resolution, but I'm back to blogging.  Doing so is actually quite fun, but with trying to keep up with both Vice Provost and Dean duties I just fell out of the habit.  I'm back to just being Dean now, having given up the Vice Provost duties in July.  Periodically contributing to this blog is back on a front burner. 

This post is one I've been planning for a long time, and so it is a perfect one to mark my restart.  I have the pleasure of highlighting again one of the many multi-talented people in this college.  This time it is Debby Alperin a research assistant in Vet Micro Path who also happens to be an outstanding photographer.  Some of Debby's photographs were assembled for the latest show in our Art in the Library Series over the fall and winter.  You can find more of her photos here, but she has allowed me to share one of my favorites with you in this post.

I have commented here before about how I love the clouds on the Palouse.  Those of you who know this place know how the rolling hills change their textures and colors with the comings and goings of the seasons.  And then the clouds...  It is not just the clouds themselves, although they are often beautiful in their own right.  But the interplay of their beauty with the textures and colors of terrain.  I've wondered why the clouds always seem to be right on top of us much of the time, and I've speculated that it is because we live on a high plateau above the canyons.  Whatever the explanation, the dynamic changes in weather, season, and cropping creates a myriad of effects of low clouds and terrain that are at times astounding.  In the end, thoughts of explanation miss the point, ...just enjoy...

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Elegance of Cat Lapping Reverse Engineered

by Bryan 12. November 2010 09:17

I am prodded out of my blogging torpor by this article in the NY Times.  Readers know that I'm fond of cats.  And, it doesn't get much better than when I can merge cats with science.  Especially when it highlights their superiority over dogs...

These guys from M.I.T., V.P.I., and Princeton, used high speed video to study the hydrodynamics of drinking in cats.  The study was incited by one of them observing his family cat, Cutta Cutta, drinking.  Being a curious sort, the study was on.  Once they figured out the basics, being engineers and scientists they had to generalize and predict, so they developed models and took more measurements on bigger cats (lions, jaguars) to test their predictions.  Cutta Cutta lapped 4 times per second, with a tongue speed of 1 meter/second.  Their predictions were that these would slow down in larger cats -- which is what they observed.  In addition, they modified a robot to successfully mimick the hydrodynamics of this process.

Cool...and they even got a Science paper out of it, the summary of which reads in part:  "...laps by a subtle mechanism based on water adhesion to the dorsal side of the tongue. A combined experimental and theoretical analysis reveals that Felis catus exploits fluid inertia to defeat gravity and pull liquid into the mouth. This competition between inertia and gravity sets the lapping frequency and yields a prediction for the dependence of frequency on animal mass..."

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Two Grey Beards Watch the Ducks in the Rain

by Bryan 10. October 2010 11:20

That's new WSU Foundation Trustee and a Coug's Coug, Kyle Frandle,  and me at our 30th DVM class reunion watching the Cougs give the Ducks a game at homecoming yesterday.  Another 1980 grad, Adawna Windom, is huddled under her green jacket behind us, and peeking over our rain gear is former long-time CVM faculty member Duane Mickelson, celebrating his 40th reunion.

As always, Kyle was there to bail me out, as I had counted on the weather cooperating and had no impervious outerwear.

Go Cougs!


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A Generous Spirit

by Bryan 2. September 2010 06:56

The people in this college are always a source of inspiration to me, in many ways, large and small.

Even in tough times, we work together as best we know how to keep moving ahead and taking care to celebrate our success.  Sometimes this means overcoming obstacles put in our way by well-intentioned, but frustrating nonetheless, policies, rules, and regulations.

I recently had occasion to be really proud of our faculty, who stepped up to a challenge I issued as follows:  Each year, our college's staff advisory committee selects four or five staff members, who have been nominated by others in the college, to receive a Dean's Staff Excellence Award.  The recipients this year -- as always -- represent a cross section of our many great staff.  This has always been a monetary award of $500 in recognition for jobs well done.  This year the obstacle was a state law passed as part of the budget cutting forced on us by the severe economic downturn we have been in for the past two years.  This law prohibits use of any university funds, regardless of the source of those funds, for cash awards to faculty or staff.  In this tough time that challenges our collective morale, we felt that it was more important than ever to provide the recognition and cash that go with these awards, so the faculty stepped up and gave to me funds that I then used to provide five staff members with the usual $500 cash award.

From the bottom of my heart, I thank these faculty -- and some senior staff from across the college who gave funds even though they were not asked to.  These were not donations to WSU.  They generated no tax deduction.  They were funds given to me personally in amounts from $20 to $200 and then passed through me to these five incredible staff members.

I not only thank these individuals for their generosity, but I thank them for trusting me to not use those funds to buy the spiffy new fly rods that I have my eye on.

Thanks so much!

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by Bryan 1. September 2010 17:45

A while back I commented on one of our recent displays of student art in the Animal Health Library.

Heather Brurud -- now in her fourth year -- is a talented photographer and this show included many of her best photos.  Recently, the library held a contest to pick the favorite photo, which will become a permanent part of the art college for the Animal Health Library.

It appears that I was prescient (...insert pat on back here...) as the photo of seagulls I put in my prior post as one of my favorites was the winner!  Now, I'll be able to continue to enjoy this long after Heather is out making her way in the real world.

Thank you Heather for sharing with us for these past few months.  These are the kinds of things that make this college a better place. 

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Working at 37,000 feet

by Bryan 31. July 2010 21:05

Air travel has been an integral part of my worklife for some time.  Until becoming dean it was rather infrequent, but now there is considerably more.

Of course working while traveling has been part of worklife travel.  One had to think ahead about what manuscript to review, grant to work on, and so on so that one had their work with them.

Not so much, any more.  Now, in what I still consider a minor miracle, I have wireless internet way up here and so I simply remote desktop into my office and it is as though I am sitting there at my computer (without the view out the window).  Better phone and no drop in conversations.  Just music on the MP3 player coming through the earbuds to help create the relative solitude of ignoring those seated around me as I use the internet, Excel, PowerPoint, email, Word, Acrobat, and all those other things that were not even in the dictionary when I started working on planes.

Intellectually, I see that the technology to do this is pretty straightforward (at least for those who understand its implementation), but for some reason the ability to sit here as though I were at my desk in Pullman creates a sense of wonder.  It's odd, really.  I think I shouldn't be so enthralled by this, but there it is...I am.  So much so that the first time I used this technology, I think I sent emails to far too many people just because I could -- just because it was from 37,000 feet somewhere over the Midwest.  (Thanks to technology, right now I know exactly where I am (Latitude 36.48 N, Longitude 91.67 W, over the Arkansas-Missouri border), headed SE toward Atlanta at 495 knots and 37,000 feet elevation.)

Perhaps someday this will be as old hat as everything else that seemed so very cool when it was new and fresh.  But for now I still like feeling the wonder... 

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Those Darn Cats

by Bryan 26. July 2010 11:37

I came across this story in the NY Times yesterday and it made me think of Barkley, about the sweetest old tom cat you ever ran across (unless you were another tom).  Barkley (who our son named for the dog on Sesame Street) started out life as a feral cat living in the draw along side our house when we lived in Vermont.  After spending a couple of weeks in the attic over the garage (a long story...perhaps for another post) he lived under the chair in the den for the next couple of months of domesticated life.  He would hiss and spit upon any approach.  To this day, I doubt if we would have tamed him except that he got deathly ill (one of those cat things that you never really figure out, provide support, and they get better or they don't; if they get better, they've used up one of their nine lives).  He was so ill he couldn't effectively fend us off and so we were able to begin handling him.  After about four months of this uneasy co-existence, in the late winter, he was at least tolerating our presence and so we decided we had to test whether he had adopted us or not.  We put him out and left the door open.  Several hours later he came back.  A few months later he was on a plane to his new life in Pullman.

One of the things in the NY Times story that struck a chord with me was the end-of-life decision for Scuzzi that paralleled our experience with Barkley.  The author's description encapsulates well the issues surrounding euthanasia for which veterinarians must be ready to engage their clients.  However, it specifically resonated because of Barkley.  He used up a couple more of his nine lives in the 13 years he lived in Pullman, but there came that time when he was about 15 years old that a lymphoma reared up, and spread rapidly.  Our kids had grown up with him and so the decision was tough, but in the end he stayed home with us, getting general supportive care and fluids, until we agreed his quality of life was no longer there and if we kept him alive longer it would be for us and not him.  And, like Scuzzi, he got the shoebox burial in the back yard so we all could say goodbye and keep him around close.

He'll always be a great cat.

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Big Doin's with Schools

by Bryan 27. May 2010 17:26

Lot's of good things to share lately -- but I only want to emphasize two in this post.

First, this week Provost Bayly announced that the School of Molecular Biosciences will move into the College of Veterinary Medicine, effective July 1, 2010.  You can read more about this here and, from the College of Sciences, here.  As I said in my announcement to our faculty and staff, I cannot overstate how important a step I think this for the future of our college and university.  We have been presented with a tremendous opportunity and we will immediately begin to capitalize on it.

Second, our School for Global Animal Health has just announced the groundbreaking for their new building on June 25.  This new building is a milestone in realizing the mission of this important strategic emphasis in our college.  The building was made possible by a generous $25 million gift from the Gates Foundation as well as other private contributions and the help of the State of Washington.  In addition to this physical growth, I am also pleased that over the next few weeks we will be interviewing candidates for the first new outside recruit to be added to the faculty in the School.

These two Schools, our three Departments, WADDL, and the VTH are all well positioned to move us ahead ever more apace -- and keep this dean hoppin'.

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More Vet Student Art

by Bryan 29. April 2010 13:24

In follow on to my last post about our many talented veterinary students and faculty, I wanted to point out to you that the third "Art in the Library" exhibit is ongoing in the Animal Health Library in Wegner Hall.  This time Heather Brurud of the Class of 2011 has put together an exhibit drawn from her many photographs.  You can find out more about Heather and her photography here.  For those of you in the area, there is an open house to meet Heather tomorrow (Friday April 30) from 4:30 to 6:00 pm.  Here's one of my favorites from Heather's exhibit.

Our intent is to make this an ongoing series.  The CVM Art in the Library series opened with Gudrun Gunther's exhibit of oil paintings last spring, and continued in the fall with an exhibit of oil paintings by Norma Duppler, the late mother of Lynne Duppler, another member of the Class of 2011.  I am so pleased that Steve and Vicki were able to work with Heather to continue this new tradition in our college.  Many thanks to those who generously contribute their time and talents to enriching our work and study place.

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Green Glove Dance

by Bryan 27. April 2010 07:50

Last week I went as an observer on the site visit team to another vet school as part of their re-accreditation process.  Our accreditation site visit is coming up in late October and this is a good way to help prepare (note to DVM alumni, in the near future we'll be asking for alumni volunteers to meet with our site visit team at that time).

That's the context; now here's the story.  More...

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