Beasley named head of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Val Richard Beasley, formerly of the University of Illinois, College of Veterinary Medicine, has been named professor and head of Penn State's Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences.

Beasley's appointment was effective Sept. 15. He succeeded Mary Kennett, who had been interim department head since November 2011.

"Val Beasley is a highly accomplished researcher, educator and administrator," said Barbara Christ, interim dean in the College of Agricultural Sciences. "His leadership has earned him the respect of his peers, and his scholarly achievements dovetail nicely with the department's strengths in animal diagnostics, immunology and infectious disease, molecular toxicology and carcinogenesis, and veterinary extension."

Beasley completed pre-veterinary studies at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, a doctor of veterinary medicine degree at Purdue University, and a residency and doctorate in toxicology at the University of Illinois' College of Veterinary Medicine. Early in his career, he spent six years in private practice as a small-animal veterinarian in coastal New Jersey and western Ohio.

He became an assistant professor of toxicology in the College of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1983, receiving promotions to associate professor in 1989 and professor in 1996. He was named professor emeritus in 2011 while continuing to work in teaching, research and service, largely in the areas of veterinary, wildlife and ecological toxicology, as well as in One Health, a worldwide initiative aimed at expanding interdisciplinary collaborations in all aspects of health care for humans, animals and the environment.

Beasley's research has focused largely on mycotoxins, cyanobacterial (blue-green algal) toxins, pesticides, metals and causes of amphibian declines. He has mentored 35 graduate students and postdoctoral scholars and has authored or co-authored more than 90 peer-reviewed research articles.

Beasley has served on the editorial board for six scientific journals and as a reviewer for numerous peer-reviewed journal articles, books, book chapters and grant programs. He has taught and/or led courses in veterinary toxicology on a body-systems basis, ecotoxicology, analytical toxicology and pharmacology, regulatory pharmacology and toxicology, and wildlife and ecosystem health. He also has lectured in courses on basic toxicology and systems toxicology.

While at the University of Illinois, Beasley held various administrative positions, including chairman of the Division of Pharmacology and Toxicology, and assistant head of the Department of Veterinary Biosciences (renamed the Department of Comparative Biosciences). He helped establish the National Animal Poison Control Center (now the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center) and from 1983 to 1989 served as its associate director and co-director.

He also founded the Envirovet Program in Wildlife and Ecosystem Health in 1991 and served as its executive director until 2011. Through its Summer Institutes and allied Baltic programs, Envirovet helped educate more than 500 veterinarians, veterinary students and wildlife biologists from 56 nations. Envirovet provided intensive four- to seven-week-long short courses on how to diagnose, mitigate and prevent emerging infectious diseases, harmful direct and indirect effects of environmental contaminants, threats to public health, and declines and extinctions of aquatic and terrestrial wildlife.

Beasley was a Fulbright Senior Research Scholar performing wildlife research in Kenya in 1997. He was named a diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Toxicology in 1982, chaired the board's examination committee, and was honored by that organization in 2014 for his leadership in training and certification of veterinarians in the specialty of toxicology.

He also led the effort that established the Veterinary and Comparative Specialty Section in the Society of Toxicology. In addition, he was a member of the National Academies of Science Committee to Assess the Current and Future Workforce Needs in Veterinary Medicine, the report of which was published in 2013.

The mission of the Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences is to seek and disseminate new knowledge related to animal health and human well-being and to apply new biomedical and biotechnological knowledge to solve practical problems affecting animal agriculture and agricultural productivity.

The department offers undergraduate programs in veterinary and biomedical sciences; immunology and infectious disease; and toxicology, as well as a graduate program in pathobiology. Faculty members in the department also participate in intercollege graduate degree programs in immunology and infectious disease, and in molecular toxicology.

Media Contacts: 
Last Updated January 09, 2015