Margie Lee, of Athens, Georgia, has been named professor and head of the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology in the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech.

An alumna of the college, Lee returns as the first female head in the department's history. In her role, she will advance the missions of a department that embraces a One Health approach – recognizing the dynamic interdependence of human, animal, and environmental health – in research, teaching, and diagnostic service.

In addition to strong programs in infectious diseases and immunology, which contribute to the university’s Destination Areas, the department makes significant contributions in the areas of cell and tissue form and function, pharmacology and toxicology, anatomic pathology, and clinical pathology. Departmental faculty provide instruction in the doctor of veterinary medicine, master’s, and doctoral degree programs.

A veterinarian and medical microbiologist, Lee previously served as the diagnostic laboratory director of the Poultry Diagnostic and Research Center at the University of Georgia in Athens, where she held a joint appointment as professor in the departments of Population Health and Infectious Diseases in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Prior to joining the faculty there in 1992, she served in veterinary private practice in Georgia and conducted postdoctoral research at Washington University in St. Louis.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to lead the department in this exciting time of change and growth for the college and Virginia Tech," said Lee. "The breadth of our faculty expertise in preclinical, diagnostic, and research disciplines enables us to play a significant role in advancing knowledge and tackling the animal, human, and environmental health challenges our society faces today. Our department has a strong reputation for excellence in infectious disease research and vaccine development. With a sharp focus on collaborative research, teaching, and service, we are well poised to build on our contributions to Virginia Tech's destination areas and beyond.”

Lee’s research is focused on epidemiology of meat and poultry-borne food safety pathogens, ecology and mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance, and ecology of poultry intestinal microbiome. Her research has been featured in 77 peer-reviewed publications and she holds two U.S. patents.

A member of the editorial board for the journal Avian Diseases, she also serves as a reviewer for many scientific grants and journals within her field of expertise.

“Margie is an accomplished scholar, researcher, and leader,” said Gregory Daniel, interim dean of the college. “Her experience in veterinary medicine, epidemiology, and microbiology, and her passion and vision make her the ideal person to lead the department and help our faculty, staff, and students build upon the college’s One Health and transdisciplinary strengths in research, learning, and service."

A two-time Hokie, Lee earned her bachelor’s in biology in 1982 and her doctor of veterinary medicine degree in 1986, when she and her classmate, Lynn Hoban, owner of Friendship Pet Hospital in Fountain Hills, Arizona, became the first black graduates of the college's veterinary program. She then completed her master’s and doctoral degrees in medical microbiology from the University of Georgia in 1988 and 1990, respectively. 

Lee is a member of the Society of Phi Zeta, Gamma Sigma Delta, and Sigma Xi, the academic honor societies of veterinary medicine, agriculture, and scientific research, respectively. She is also a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Society for Microbiology, and the American Association of Avian Pathologists.

Among Lee’s post-graduate honors are a Southeastern Branch of American Society for Microbiology J.C. Feeley Award for Environmental Microbiology in 2013, a University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine Dave Tyler Award for technological innovations in teaching in 2006, and a Southeastern Branch of American Society for Microbiology Margaret Green Award for Outstanding Service in teaching microbiology at the undergraduate level in 2005. In 1997, she received the veterinary college’s Distinguished Alumnus award, bestowed as part of Virginia Tech’s 125th anniversary celebration.

Lee, whose appointment was effective April 1, succeeds William Pierson, interim head and professor of biosecurity and infection control and avian medicine, who retired from Virginia Tech in June.

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