Birgit Puschner has been recommended to serve as the new dean of Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
If approved by the MSU Board of Trustees, her appointment will be effective October 1.
Puschner is professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Biosciences in the School of Veterinary Medicine at University of California, Davis. After completing her residency in veterinary toxicology in 1999, Puschner joined the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine faculty.
She previously served as professor of clinical veterinary toxicology and professor of toxicology at the school. She also worked as a diagnostic veterinary toxicologist for more than a decade for the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System, with the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.
Puschner credits her upbringing in rural Bavaria for providing a love of and connection to agriculture and animal health. She received her doctorate of veterinary medicine, licensure to practice and her Ph.D. from Tiermedizinische Fakultät, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany. She did postgraduate training at the Animal Medical Center in New York and went on to complete a postdoctoral fellowship with the University of Michigan School of Medicine. She is a diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Toxicology.
“Dr. Puschner possesses a broad range of leadership, research and teaching achievements and skills that will advance all aspects of the College of Veterinary Medicine and the vision to take the college and the university to new places,” said MSU Provost June Pierce Youatt. “We are delighted to welcome her as the first female dean of MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine.”
Puschner’s own research concentrates on diagnostic veterinary toxicology and the development of criteria for interpretation of analytical data. Her research is diverse, drawing on and contributing to multiple disciplines that influence animal, human and environmental health. She has multiple publications – from books and chapters to peer-reviewed journal articles. In addition, she has numerous active, grant-funded research projects from organizations that include the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Dr. Puschner’s commitment to the field of veterinary medicine in all areas of animal, human and environmental health will no doubt further the college’s reputation as a leader in research and science,” said MSU Interim President John Engler. “We welcome her and her incredibly strong talents to MSU.”
Puschner has a true passion for and commitment to teaching all students – from residents and DVM students to undergraduates. She has received multiple Favorite Teacher and Favorite Faculty awards by UC Davis veterinary students and was recognized as the Pfizer Animal Health Distinguished Teacher from UC Davis in 2009. She pioneered the development of online courses for the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and was awarded the Provost Hybrid Course Award in 2013 and the Innovative Learning Teaching Initiative Award in 2015 by the UC Office of the President, Oakland.
“One of the most rewarding experiences in academia is when you witness students using their new-found knowledge to connect the dots and extend their expertise into all areas of the global community,” Puschner said. “To contribute to that is so important because we need to be the role models for our students to ensure that they represent MSU and the veterinary profession in the best possible way.”
Puschner will succeed John Baker, who has served as dean since 2014 and is stepping down on June 30 to pursue other work within the college as he transitions to retirement. A responsible administrator will be named to fill the dean position from July 1 to October 1.