Staff

Interim Director

Elsa Murano, PhD

Associate Director

Heather Simmons, DVM, MSVPH

Assistant Director

Jessica Cargill, MPH

Assistant Director

Rachel Whisenant

Program Manager

Justin Buenger, MIA

Program Director

Sarah Caffey, MPH

Veterinarian

David Castellan, DVM, MPVM, ACPVM, ACPV

Program Manager

Miguel Gonzalez, MIA

Program Specialist

Sarah Manning

Veterinarian

Jimmy Tickel, DVM

Interim Director

Elsa Murano, PhD

Associate Director

Heather Simmons, DVM, MSVPH

Heather Simmons, DVM, MSVPH, serves as IIAD’s associate director and as Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s associate department head and extension program leader for Veterinary Medical Extension.

As associate director, Simmons assists the Director in the executive operation of the Institute. She provides scientific leadership for all day-to-day project management oversight, works in close concert with the project directors/management and provides direct supervision to employees. Simmons also oversees ad-hoc project teams, coordinates development and submission of associated proposals and budgets, works closely with the Director to ensure overall strategic continuity and, along with the Director, is responsible for facilitating ongoing communication with stakeholders in partner universities, agencies and private industry.

In her previous role at IIAD, Simmons served as Education and Outreach Theme Leader, overseeing a multi-million dollar education and extension portfolio, and building a program portfolio which continues to span K-12, graduate and professional training globally. Simmons has co-developed and implemented six research and extension programs. Internationally, she has provided training to veterinarians worldwide in over 20 countries. She has also authored two textbooks, 15 online courses and 36 Extension training manuals.

Simmons is a member of the United States Animal Health Association and the Texas Veterinary Medical Association. She serves on the OIE ad hoc Working Group for Veterinary Para-professionals.

Assistant Director

Jessica Cargill, MPH

Jessica Cargill, MPH, serves as assistant director for Evaluation and Portfolio Management. Cargill works across the Institute to develop and implement evaluation strategies, implement research to improve unit-wide performance, and direct evaluation activities operating across multiple thrust areas. Her program evaluation duties include developing evaluation plans, designing data collection instruments, and collecting and analyzing data. In addition, she works with staff to link project-, portfolio-, and unit-level activities to the Institute’s strategic plan and develop methods for tracking and monitoring strategic objectives. Cargill holds a Masters of Public Health from the Texas A&M Health Science Center, School of Public Health and a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Texas A&M University.

Email:jessica.cargill@ag.tamu.edu

Phone:979-458-2390

Assistant Director

Rachel Whisenant

Rachel Whisenant serves as chief of staff for the Institute, where she works closely with the Director in managing day-to-day office activities, including oversight of administrative staff and directing logistical activities to promote program success and the Director’s strategic vision. She also oversees the coordination, logistical planning and implementation of IIAD events and manages special projects.

Whisenant holds a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and has served at IIAD since 2009. She brings extensive experience and training in project and organizational management, executive level support and financial management.

As chief of staff at IIAD, Whisenant also:

  • Facilitates external communication with project partners, including international, federal, state, and industry officials.
  • Assists in monitoring agency compliance with rules and procedures.
  • Recommends and assists in implementing changes to enhance and strengthen existing programs.
  • Coordinates strategic and responsive requests for programmatic information.
  • Maintains and oversees filing systems and protocols for project management task lists and databases.

 

Program Manager

Justin Buenger, MIA

Justin Buenger, MIA, has joined the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases (IIAD) as a program coordinator effective September 12, 2018. Buenger will be working with the Institute’s Frontline In Service Applied Veterinary Epidemiology Program (ISAVET) team to support projects in Africa.

As program coordinator, Buenger will work closely with the ISAVET Program Technical Lead, Dr. David Castellan, DVM, MPVM, ACPVM, in developing and implementing the ISAVET program in East, Central, and West Africa. He will coordinate training activities, facilitate communications with the ISAVET team and international stakeholders, monitor budgets, prepare program reports and presentations, maintain
databases, and assist in logistical implementation.

Previously, Buenger has worked on projects in Ghana, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo supporting public health and entrepreneurship. Buenger holds a Bachelor of Science in University Studies with a focus on biomedical sciences from Texas A&M University and a Master of International Affairs from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University.

Email:Justin.Buenger@ag.tamu.edu

Phone:979-845-8487

Program Director

Sarah Caffey, MPH

Sarah Caffey, MPH, serves as a Program Director for the Institute, leading the development, implementation, and management of the Preparedness and Response thrust area. Caffey works closely with the IIAD leadership team to support day-to-day operations, assist with planning, and direct logistical activities in support of the Institute’s strategic initiatives. She also advises leadership on new strategic opportunities and implements plans to drive growth and support change.

Veterinarian

David Castellan, DVM, MPVM, ACPVM, ACPV

David Castellan, DVM, MPVM, ACPVM, is a veterinarian at the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases, serving as an international animal health subject matter resource expert and epidemiologist for the Veterinary Field Epidemiology Training Program with international stakeholders.

From 2008 to 2015 he was the Senior Veterinary Epidemiologist, FAO ECTAD, Region of Asia and Pacific where he was engaged in supporting the development of regional epidemiology capacity, including the Field Epidemiology Training Program for Veterinarians (FETPV) training centers in Thailand, China and Indonesia as well as delivering FETPV training programs in Southeast and South Asia countries.

He holds the degrees: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, University of Guelph; Master of Preventive Veterinary Medicine and Poultry Medicine Residency, University of California, Davis; and is board certified with the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine and the American College of Poultry Veterinarians.

Additional professional contributions in Canada, USA, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean, include the development and delivery of: 1) country contingency plans for avian influenza; 2) an avian influenza vaccination planning tool; 3) an epidemiology mapping tool; 4) the Tripartite Joint Risk Assessment Methodology; and 5) outbreak investigations, surveillance and field research studies in developed and developing countries.

His work supports evidence-based decision-making using epidemiology and poultry medicine to promote human health, animal health and food security using a One Health approach.

Program Manager

Miguel Gonzalez, MIA

Miguel Gonzalez. MIA, serves as program manager at IIAD, managing and overseeing the planning, development and implementation or projects and programs within the Institutes international portfolio. He prepares and monitors budgets, implements timelines, develops portfolio objectives.

Gonzalez came to IIAD in July 2016 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service, where he served as an international agricultural programs specialist. There, he managed food safety technical assistance and trade facilitation programs in Bangladesh, Colombia, North Africa, South America, the Caribbean and Central America.

Gonzalez holds a Bachelor of Science in public administration with a minor in Spanish from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and a Masters of International Affairs from the Texas A&M University Bush School of Government and Public Service. He is also a certified Project Management Professional®.

Email:miguel.gonzalez@ag.tamu.edu

Phone:979-458-2388

Program Specialist

Sarah Manning

Manning serves as a program specialist at the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases (IIAD) assisting with collecting, analyzing, and evaluating data from the institute’s projects and activities. Manning conducts and compiles statistical analysis sharing detailed feedback to staff for the enhancement and development of programs. Manning holds a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science (with a concentration in Animal Industries and a minor in business) from Tarleton State University.

Veterinarian

Jimmy Tickel, DVM

Jimmy Tickel, DVM is a veterinarian at the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases (IIAD), serving as a livestock emergency management subject matter resource for the Institute. Tickels’ expertise is specifically sought after for issues related to emergency management on a national and international level.

As an IIAD veterinarian, Tickel overseas and is involved with three projects focused on emergency preparedness. He serves as a technical expert on the FAO Good Emergency Management Practices (GEMP) Technical Working Group. GEMP TWG members serve as international subject matter experts to assist countries in planning and preparation for animal health emergencies. Tickel is also working on a gaming simulation funded by the Department of Homeland Security for critical infrastructure emergency preparedness.

In September 2018, Tickel retired and ended his 28 years of service to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, where he had served as the NE Regional Veterinarian for Emergency Programs Division since. Tickel is also CEO of JLT Consulting LLC. Over the years, he has had the pleasure of training/presenting on Transboundary Animal Disease and Disaster Response/Preparedness in 42 states. Tickel holds a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (summa cum laude) from North Carolina State University.