Dr. Philip Bochsler, Director
Dr. Philip Bochsler was named the Director of the WVDL in early June of this year, replacing Dr. Tom McKenna who accepted a new position in September of 2014 with the USDA. Dr. Bochsler assumed his new duties on July 6th.
Bochsler initially joined the WVDL staff in July of 2001. After graduating from Washington State University with his DVM, he spent two and a half years in mixed animal practice in both Oregon and Washington before entering a combined Ph.D. and residency program in pathology at Cornell University. He subsequently worked at the University of Tennessee as a professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine in diagnostic pathology and teaching, while also performing research on the immunological responses of cattle to toxin from Gram-negative bacteria. Before moving to Madison and the WVDL, he earned two awards for teaching excellence at Tennessee, serving as Director of the Pathology Resident Training Program and the Director of Anatomic Pathology Service. Prior to taking over his new role as Director at WVDL in July of 2015, Dr. Bochsler served as the Section Chief of Pathology, Chemistry and TSE testing. In addition, he was an active pathologist and taught at the School of Veterinary Medicine where he currently remains a Clinical Professor. His interests and expertise span a large number of animal species and an array of diseases.
Dr. Kathy Toohey-Kurth, Section Chief – Virology
Kathy Toohey-Kurth is the Virology Section Chief at the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. She holds a second appointment as a Clinical Professor in the Pathobiological Sciences Department at the UW School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a Wisconsin native and earned a BS and MS from the Bacteriology Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She worked as a clinical microbiologist prior to training in molecular virology for her PhD at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Dr Kurth continued her training in molecular virology as a post-doctoral fellow at the NIH Rocky Mountain Laboratory. Subsequently she held a Science Fellowship at the National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL), working at both Ames, Ia. and Plum Island sites. At WVDL, Dr. Kurth has applied her clinical and molecular virology expertise to the development and improvement of diagnostic assays for detection of mammalian, avian and aquatic pathogens. She has a specific interest in developing high throughput molecular assays with the goal of improving cost effectiveness while maintaining high quality results. Since 2002, she has been active in the National Animal Health Laboratory Network and participates in the technical working group. This has led to an interest in defining and establishing parameters for molecular assay validation. Dr Kurth co-chairs the AAVLD Laboratory Technology Committee and in this position has led the development of guidelines for performance, validation and interpretation of PCR assays.
Dr. Nicole Aulik, Interim Section Chief – Microbiology
Nicole Aulik joined the WVDL staff in November of 2014 taking on the role of supervisor of the Microbiology Lab. This past April, she assumed the title of interim Microbiology Section Chief and also holds a second appointment with the Department of Pathobiological Sciences in the University of Wisconsin- Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Aulik is a Wisconsin native who earned a BS in Medical Microbiology and Immunology and Molecular Biology (2005) and her PhD in Microbiology (2010) at the University of Wisconsin- Madison. She spent three years as a faculty member at Winona State University followed by a position as a Microbiology Manager for a pharmaceutical company. Dr. Aulik’s research focuses primarily on bovine respiratory disease and bovine Salmonellosis, with a focus on the interaction between the microorganism and the innate immune system.
Dr. Keith Poulsen, Section Chief of Client Services
Diagnostic Case and Outreach Coordinator
Keith Poulsen is the Diagnostic Case and Outreach Coordinator at the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. He also holds a second appointment as a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Medical Sciences Department at the UW School of Veterinary Medicine and practices as a specialist in Large Animal Internal Medicine in the UW Veterinary Care Large Animal Teaching Hospital. Dr. Poulsen is a Wisconsin native and earned a BS in Biochemistry (2000) and DVM (2004) at the University of Wisconsin. He interned at North Carolina State University in the Food Animal Medicine and Surgery Program prior to returning to Wisconsin for his residency in Large Animal Internal Medicine and earned diplomate status from ACVIM in 2008. Following clinical training, Dr. Poulsen earned a PhD in Comparative Biomedical Sciences from the University of Wisconsin in 2012. He spent two years at Oregon State University as a faculty member in Large Animal Internal Medicine and has returned to the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and the School of Veterinary Medicine in 2014. Dr. Poulsen has special interests in cattle health and zoonotic infectious diseases. He also has an active role in the UW Global Health Institute with current focus on cattle health in Ecuador.
Dr. Melissa Behr, Veterinary Pathologist
Dr. Behr came to the WVDL from upstate New York, where she studied mouse models of West Nile Virus infection, and bat diseases at the NYSDOH Wadsworth Center. Prior to that, she was a diagnostic pathologist at the University of Illinois’ veterinary diagnostic lab (99-02), and at New Mexico State’s Veterinary Diagnostic Services in Albuquerque, NM (87-99). She started out as a mixed practitioner in upstate New York, and is thrilled to be back in a diagnostic setting which also happens to be closer to the course of the American Birkebeiner.
Dr. Hui-Min Hsu, Aquatic Species Specialist
Dr. Hsu joined the WVDL in December 2000. Prior to her work here, she spent six years at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, where she conducted fish health inspections throughout the state of Wisconsin and performed microbiology and pathology diagnostic work. She earned her DVM from the National Taiwan University (1985) before coming to the United States to pursue graduate studies, specializing in fish diseases at Cornell University, receiving her PhD in 1993. Dr. Hsu is a certified Fish Pathologist with the American Fisheries Society. Her interests include work in the development of diagnostic assays for aquatic bacterial and parasitic pathogens. Dr. Hsu has also been actively involved in the training of aquaculture veterinarians in Wisconsin. In addition, she has participated in inter-laboratory studies directed by FDA-CVM on the standardization of antimicrobial tests for fish pathogens and worked on collaborative projects with other fish testing laboratories on the improvement of diagnostic tools.
Dr. Ogi Okwumabua, Clinical Diagnostic Professor
Dr. Okwumabua joined the WVDL staff in August 2001. After graduating from Kansas State University with a PhD, he did a postdoctoral fellowship at the same institution. Thereafter, he worked in research and development at Bayer Corporation as a senior research scientist and subsequently as an Associate Professor of Microbiology at Tuskegee University in the Department of Pathobiology within the College of Veterinary Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health. At Tuskegee, Okwumabua performed research on molecular genetic characterization of zoonotic bacteria, development of recombinant sub-unit vaccine and diagnostic reagents, antibiotic resistance and mechanism of resistance gene transfer process. Prior to accepting his position at the WVDL he won the Pfizer Award for Research Excellence and also outstanding faculty performance award. Dr. Okwumabua teaches bacteriology to veterinary medical students at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine where he holds an appointment as a Professor in Clinical Diagnostics. He is currently a member of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), American Association for Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD), New York Academy of Sciences and American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Dr. Okwumabua has published many of his research findings in national and international peer reviewed journals and he enjoys diagnostic bacteriology and mentoring undergraduate and graduate students.
Dr. Donald Sockett, Veterinary Microbiologist
Dr. Sockett grew up on a dairy farm in Southern Ontario, Canada and graduated from veterinary school at the University of Guelph in 1981. After graduation, he successfully completed internship and residency programs in large animal medicine and surgery at the University of Minnesota and Colorado State University, respectively. He obtained his PhD degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1991. Dr. Sockett has authored over 100 articles on infectious diseases of dairy cattle in scientific and lay journals. Currently, he works as a veterinary microbiologist/epidemiologist at the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.
Dr. Holly Taylor, Diagnostic Pathologist
Dr. Holly Taylor joins the WVDL staff as the full-time pathologist at the Barron Lab. She grew up in Pennsylvania on a beef farm that raised Hereford and Angus cattle and her great-grandfather owned a dairy farm and also raised Belgian draft horses. Dr. Taylor earned her B.S. in Animal Bioscience (minors in ‘Poultry & Avian sciences’ & ‘Wildlife & Fisheries science’) from Penn State University (2009) and went onto obtain her DVM degree from the University of Tennessee (2013). While at Tennessee, she completed several pathology externships at Michigan State University, Cornell University and Penn State. During the past three years, Taylor completed her anatomic pathology residency at the University of Missouri Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. Her specific interests are bovine infectious diseases and poultry pathology. Along with her husband and two-year old daughter, Dr. Taylor hopes to start a cow-calf farm in the Barron area. Among her many interests are hiking & running with her dogs, boating, camping, traveling and attending tractor pulls.
Dr. Chris Watson, Diagnostic Pathologist
Dr. Watson became a part-time member of the WVDL staff in early December 2014 and a full-time staff pathologist in September 2015. Dr. Watson is originally from New Hampshire and completed her undergraduate and Master’s degrees in Connecticut. After her Master’s degree, Dr. Watson attended veterinary school at the University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland, UK from 2004-09. After earning her BVMS, MRCVS (DVM equivalent), Dr. Watson pursued her interests in veterinary anatomical pathology and completed her residency at the University of Minnesota in 2013. Dr. Watson enjoys infectious disease and has a strong interest in lung pathology specifically in canine influenza virus and bovine respiratory diseases.