June 26, 2019

Vet Med prof honoured with Killam Annual Professorship for research and teaching excellence

Herman Barkema is quick to point out he’s not the only Killam scholar in the lab

Two graduate students and one professor in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM) studying infectious diseases in dairy cattle have won Killam awards for excellence. Every year, the Killam Trusts recognize outstanding researchers at the University of Calgary and four other Canadian universities with a number of different awards.

Most recently, Dr. Herman Barkema, DVM, PhD, was awarded a University of Calgary Killam Annual Professorship for excellence in research and teaching. But he’s quick to point out he’s not the only Killam scholar in the lab. “I work with a great team,” says Barkema, professor, epidemiology of infectious diseases in UCVM and the Cumming School of Medicine, and NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Infectious Diseases of Dairy Cattle.

“With my graduate students I have a dream team. Two of them have received Killam awards as well.”

In 2017, Dr. Caroline Ritter received the Izaak Walton Killam Pre-Doctoral Scholarship. She defended her PhD in 2018 that explored disease control on dairy farms with a focus on Johne’s Disease and veterinary communication (she also won a Banting Postdoctoral Scholarship in 2018).

In 2018, Diego Nobrega, who studies the impact of antibiotics in food-producing animals in the emergence of antibiotic resistance, was awarded the two-year Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Scholarship. Additionally, he was awarded the Donald N. Byers Memorial Killam Prize for Best Statement of Program of Studies and Research.

Together, Barkema, Ritter, Nobrega and the rest of the team of excellent grad students have helped reduce disease and loss of production among dairy cattle, improved animal welfare and decreased risks of transmitting diseases from cattle to humans.

“The research is going great,” says Barkema, who spends much of his time in the field working with dairy farmers. “It’s going very well. We are working with the dairy industry and finding the bottlenecks to control certain diseases and then work to fix them. We find out knowledge and then we change the control program accordingly. We help dairy farms and their veterinarians pick up the knowledge, so we do lots of talks.”

The research team works with the dairy industry across the prairies as well as several national organizations. The work has helped improve the sustainability of animal agriculture and ensure a safe and wholesome food supply.

The Killam Trusts, named for Izaak Walton Killam and his wife Dorothy Killam, were set up in 1965 with $100 million. Since then they have awarded about 7,000 laureates. They are one of Canada’s only private, philanthropic trusts for higher education.

Herman Barkema is a cross-appointed professor in the department of Community Health Sciences at the Cumming School of Medicine and a member of the O’Brien Institute for Public Health.

Nominations for the Killam Research and Teaching Awards close Aug. 10, 2019. The Killam Research and Teaching Awards honour outstanding teaching, supervision, and research at the University of Calgary. Nominations are made by your faculty’s dean. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate a scholar, visit the Research website.