Our Team

Members
Director

Heather Simmons, DVM, MSVPH

Assistant Director

Jessica Cargill, MPH

Assistant Director

Rachel Whisenant

Senior Lead Scientist

Christine Budke, DVM, PhD

Veterinarian

Jimmy Tickel, DVM

Research Specialist

Miguel Gonzalez, MIA

Program Specialist

Sarah Manning

Director

Heather Simmons, DVM, MSVPH

Dr. Heather Simmons is the Director for the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases. Dr. Simmons has a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree and a Masters in Veterinary Public Health in infectious disease epidemiology, both from Texas A&M University (TAMU). She acts as the Chief Executive Officer in the Institute. She has over 16 years of experience working on infectious diseases for emerging and transboundary animal diseases for capacity development and educational activities targeting youth and professional Veterinary Services. She has developed several certification programs and has helped to deliver IIADs digital education programs in surveillance, epidemiology, risk analysis and executive laboratory management.

Dr. Simmons has acted as a resource SME for the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). For OIE, she has provided expertise to the OIE ad hoc Working Group for Veterinary Paraprofessionals, the OIE Veterinary Paraprofessional Expert Pool and the OIE Veterinary Emergency Management Network. For FAO, she has provided curriculum development and training expertise for the Frontline In-Service Applied Veterinary Epidemiology Training Program (ISAVET) in West, Central and East Africa. She was a previously the Chair for the Committee on Animal Emergency Management with the United States Animal Health Association (USAHA). From 2014 – 2020, she previously served as the Associate Department Head and Extension Program Leader for Veterinary Extension with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service overseeing all youth development activities for Veterinary Extension in Texas. Her research has resulted in authorship of several peer-reviewed and OIE publications and 2 textbooks. Dr. Simmons receive the FP Jaggi Veterinary Public Health Award and the Texas A&M University Systems Vice Chancellor Award in International Development.

Assistant Director

Jessica Cargill, MPH

Jessica Cargill, MPH, serves as Assistant Director for Evaluation and Program Development. Cargill works across the Institute to direct program evaluation activities to capture outcomes and impacts of IIAD programming, and oversees the development of proposals for new funding opportunities. 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 is a current PH student at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and holds a Masters of Public Health from the Texas A&M 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 Assistant Director where she manages unit operations to promote program success and the Director’s strategic vision. She manages coordination with the Institute’s advising committees and groups, directs logistical planning and implementation of IIAD events, and manages special projects as needed. She also fosters positive workplace culture through team-building initiatives and manages staff development opportunities and resources.

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.

 

Senior Lead Scientist

Christine Budke, DVM, PhD

Dr. Christine Budke is a Senior Lead Scientist in Risk Prevention for the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases (IIAD). She is also a tenured professor of epidemiology, an associate department head, and the coordinator of the Veterinary Public Health & Epidemiology graduate program at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVMBS). Dr. Budke has a doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) degree from Purdue University and a PhD in infectious disease epidemiology from the University of Basel/Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute. Her research focuses on epidemiology, burden of disease indicators, zoonotic diseases, and international veterinary medicine and public health.

Dr. Budke has over 20 years of experience working on infectious diseases in resource-poor areas and has a special interest in neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and neglected zoonotic diseases (NZDs). She has acted as a resource advisor for the World Health Organization (WHO) Foodborne Disease Burden Epidemiology Reference Group (FERG) and has contributed to the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Study. Dr. Budke was a visiting professor at National Chung-Hsing University in Taichung, Taiwan in 2019 and was accepted to the Fulbright Specialist roster in 2021. She is a Deputy Editor of PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases and an Associate Editor of Preventive Veterinary Medicine. She is also the recipient of the CVMBS Bridges Teaching and Service Award and the Texas Veterinary Medical Association Teaching Award.

 

Email: cbudke@cvm.tamu.edu

Phone: 979-458-2154

Veterinarian

Jimmy Tickel, DVM

Jimmy Tickel, DVM is a veterinarian at the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases (IIAD), serving as an animal emergency management subject matter resource for the Institute. Tickel’s expertise is specifically sought after for issues related to disease and disaster mitigation, prevention and response on a national and international level.

As an IIAD veterinarian, Tickel oversees and is involved with a number of projects focused on emergency preparedness. He serves as a technical expert on the FAO Good Emergency Management Practices (GEMP) Technical Working Group and represents IIAD as a OIE Collaborating Center to EMVETNET in the area of disease preparedness, threat reduction. Tickel is also working to advance US FMD Vaccine Planning and implementation as well as Mortality Management Capability through two  NADPRP grants with the first being a sponsored national Tabletop Exercise and the second development of decision tool for centralized carcass disposal.  In addition, he is currently working on a game-based learning system, initially  funded by the Department of Homeland Security designed to ultimately increase Foreign Animal Disease 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 Incident Commander/Operations Section Chief for the Emergency Programs Division of the Department. 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 45 states. Tickel holds a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (summa cum laude) from North Carolina State University and also serves as an Adjunct Professor, having had the honor of training over 1000 graduates in disaster and disease preparedness.

Research Specialist

Miguel Gonzalez, MIA

Miguel Gonzalez, MIA, serves as a Research Specialist at IIAD, managing and overseeing the planning, development and implementation of research and capacity building programs mostly within the Institute’s international portfolio. He prepares proposals, monitors budgets, implements timelines, and develops portfolio objectives.  Mr. 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.  He 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) facilitating the enhancement of programs across the institute assisting with program development, management, and implementation. Manning’s focus areas include: monitoring and evaluation, curriculum development, project training and delivery, marketing and communications, graphic design, and website and social media management. Manning holds a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science (with a concentration in Animal Industries and a minor in Business) from Tarleton State University.

 


Senior Fellows
Diagnostics

Barbara Martin

Epidemiology

David Castellan, DVM, MPVM, ACPVM, ACPV

Animal Health Economics

Jonathan Rushton

Transboundary Animal Diseases

Subhash Morzaria, BVSc, MSc, PhD, CIBiol, MRCVS

Diagnostics

Barbara Martin

Barbara has over 35 year’s experience bringing diverse groups of stakeholders together to facilitate the development and implementation of programs and policies related to preparedness, emergency response, and laboratory management. As a United States Department of Agriculture employee, she coordinated the National Animal Health Laboratory Network and developed and implemented the policies necessary to ensure adequate diagnostic capacity and capability to address foreign animal diseases and newly emerging diseases, including bioterrorist events. She led the implementation of national, standardized surveillance for high priority diseases including the first active surveillance program for a foreign animal disease (classical swine fever) as well as for emerging public health concerns (pandemic H1N1).

Barbara’s diagnostic laboratory operations and management experience includes national and international laboratory reviews to assess diagnostic capabilities and the development of plans to address associated gaps. She has established national and international training related to quality management systems, and she has extensive experience in development of policies and processes for validation, deployment, and use of diagnostic technologies and associated proficiency testing programs.

 

Barbara currently works with OIE on laboratory sustainability with the objectives to promote evidence-based laboratory biosafety and biosecurity, to foster strategic decision making for national laboratories’ resources, and to promote the implementation of OIE International Standards in the veterinary laboratory setting. She is collaborating with APHL, CDC, eCDC, FAO, OIE, and WHO to develop the One Health focused Global Laboratory Leadership Program. As the Executive Director of the World Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians, Barbara works to improve animal health, human health, and One Health by facilitating the availability of quality laboratory testing provided by veterinary diagnostic laboratories around the world.

Epidemiology

David Castellan, DVM, MPVM, ACPVM, ACPV

David Castellan works as an International Veterinary Epidemiology Consultant. He was previously employed as Veterinary Epidemiologist with the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases, Texas A&M University and as Senior Veterinary Epidemiologist, FAO ECTAD, Region of Asia and Pacific. In Asia 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.  Dr. Castellan led the development of Frontline In Service Applied Veterinary Epidemiology Training (ISAVET) in Africa.  His work focuses on evidence-based decision-making using applied epidemiology at the human-animal-environmental interface within a One Health approach. Dr. Castellan is the recipient of awards related to the prevention and control of avian influenza and virulent Newcastle disease as well as the American Veterinary Medical Association Global Veterinary Service Award (2020).

Animal Health Economics

Jonathan Rushton

Jonathan Rushton is an agricultural economist who specialises in the economics of animal health and food systems. His principal research interests are the: Global Burden of Animal Diseases (GBADs) where he directs a global programme with OIE (https://animalhealthmetrics.org); economics of antimicrobial use and resistance in livestock; and assessment of the multidimensionality of food quality and public health. He has recently completed studies on the economics of antimicrobial use in livestock in SE Asia for FAO and the economics of new livestock vaccines for the EU funded SAPHIR project and is currently involved in research on antimicrobial use in livestock in Vietnam (VIPARC), India (DARPI) and the EU (ROADMAP). He is working with IIAD on the economic dimensions of sustainable laboratory systems, a project funded by OIE. Jonathan embraces One Health approaches in the search for solutions to society’s health problems.

Jonathan is professor of animal health and food systems economics at the Institute of Infection, Veterinary and Ecological Sciences, University of Liverpool, leads a University Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Food Systems (https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/centre-for-sustainable-food-systems/) and is part of the N8 Agrifood programme (http://www.n8research.org.uk). He is also adjunct Professor in the School of Behavioural, Cognitive & Social Sciences of the University of New England, Australia and president of the International Society for Economics and Social Sciences of Animal Health (http://www.isessah.com). In 2020 he became a Senior IIAD Fellow in Epidemiology at Texas A&M.

Transboundary Animal Diseases

Subhash Morzaria, BVSc, MSc, PhD, CIBiol, MRCVS

Dr. Subhash Morzaria is a veterinarian with over 35 years of international experience in animal health, high impact zoonotic and non-zoonotic diseases, and livestock development. He has worked for several national and international organisations in Africa, UK and Asia and held senior research and managerial positions in various institutions that include the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) of the UK government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the International Laboratory for Research on Animal Diseases (ILRAD) and International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) of the Consultative Group on Agriculture (CGIAR), and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.  In Africa, his worked focused on addressing a range of animal disease problems focusing on the improvement and commercialisation of existing technologies and development of novel vaccines against a range of vector-borne pathogens using immuno-molecular approaches. In Asia he has been involved in developing a number of regional and international strategies for prevention and control of avian influenza and other major transboundary animal diseases (TADs) including FMD and CSF, Including the development and promotion of One Health concepts. From 2015-2018, as the Senior Animal Health Adviser to the Animal Health Programme of FAO based in Rome, he led the USAID-funded Emerging Pandemic Threats Programme. He has authored over 200 scientific papers in international refereed journals and has supervised a number of PhD students in the Africa, UK and Asia. He is also Adjunct Professor at University of Murdoch, Perth, Australia, and serves or has served as a member of scientific advisory committees of a number institutions/organizations including GALVMED, EcoHealth Alliance, Institute of Infectious Animal Diseases of the Texas A&M University, and PREDICT-2 Programme of the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, and South African Centre for Infectious Diseases Surveillance (SACIDS) One Health Foundation.


Student Externs
4th Year Veterinary Student

Serene Yu

4th Year Veterinary Student

Thomas Jeffreys

4th Year Veterinary Student

Serene Yu

Spring 2021

Serene is currently a fourth-year veterinary student at Texas A&M with a focus in public health and epidemiology. After graduation, Serene plans to be a small animal veterinarian with a prospective career in public health. Yu respects the crucial role veterinarians play in mitigating the impacts of infectious diseases between humans, animals, and the environment. One of Serene’s career goals is to be able to work closely with various bat species.

4th Year Veterinary Student

Thomas Jeffreys

Spring 2021

Thomas Jeffreys is currently a fourth-year veterinary student at Texas A&M University with a focus in public health and epidemiology. Before attending vet school, he obtained a MPH in epidemiology and worked an epidemiologist for the Texas Department of State Health Services. Thomas previously spent time at IIAD in 2018 serving as the Boehringer-Ingelheim Veterinary Public Health Intern. During his spring 2021 externship, Thomas served under Dr. Tickel in support of IIAD’s Vaccine Tabletop exercise project assisting with the development of the exercise’s webinar content.