Rising Star Alumni Award

About the Rising Star Alumni Award

The Rising Star Alumni Award recognizes a DVM graduate of the School who, within 15 years of graduation, has demonstrated outstanding professional achievement. Evidence of achievement includes national or international recognition of scientific, clinical, or veterinary education innovation or accomplishment; leadership of initiatives that promote and achieve innovative change; outstanding service benefitting animal, human or environmental health; and demonstrated leadership within the profession.

2024 Rising Star

Christine Parker-Graham

Christine Parker-Graham DVM (’14)

Dr. Parker-Graham is honored with the Rising Star Alumna Award for outstanding dedication to conservation medicine, tribal partnerships, and the ongoing improvement of aquatic animal health and welfare. A triple UC Davis alumna including a BA ('08) and Aquatic Animal Health fellow ('18), she is a veterinary medical officer with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), providing veterinary services to federal and tribal fish hatcheries to support conservation and tribal trust missions. Dr. Parker-Graham focuses on improving fish health in conservation hatcheries, increasing awareness within the agency of the importance of fish welfare, and strengthening relationships with hatchery managers and biologists to consider welfare metrics, build welfare evaluations, and initiate programs to improve welfare of hatchery fish.  With the Department of Interior's recent initiative to entrust environmental stewardship to Tribes, FWS has transferred management of a large hatchery in Idaho to the Nez Perce Tribe. Dr. Parker-Graham continues to provide veterinary oversight and support to this hatchery, ensuring the tribe has the veterinary resources needed to achieve their aquatic conservation goals.

2023 Rising Star

Brian Leonard

Brian Leonard, Ph.D. (’12), DVM (’13), Comparative Ophthalmology Residency (’17)

Dr. Leonard is honored with the Rising Star Alumni Award in recognition of outstanding contributions to vision science and comparative ophthalmology. A triple alum of the School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Leonard completed a mentored NIH K08 training program in 2022. He joined our faculty in 2019 as a clinician-scientist and has made substantive contributions to the section of comparative ophthalmology and importantly has expanded and strengthened “cross causeway” ties with the Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences in the School of Medicine. Dr. Leonard has established himself nationally and internationally as a junior leader in ocular surface diseases and therapeutics and has assumed a leadership role in training and research in inarguably the strongest academic program in comparative ophthalmology in the world.


Previous Rising Star Alumni Achievement Award Recipients

  • 2022
  • Roxann Brooks Motroni PhD '12, DVM '13

    Roxann Brooks Motroni PhD '12, DVM '13

    Dr. Motroni is honored with the Rising Star Alumna Award for recognition of Pajaroellobacter abortibovis, the long-sought-after causative agent of bovine foothill abortion, and for national leadership in the diagnosis and prevention of infectious diseases of livestock. Dr. Motroni is National Program Leader for Animal Health for the US Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS). After completing a food animal field service internship at the University of Tennessee, Dr. Motroni was selected as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Executive Branch Fellow in the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) working in the Foreign Animal Disease Vaccines and Diagnostics Program and the International FMD Vaccine Trial. Subsequently, she was appointed as a program manager in the DHS Agricultural Defense Branch responsible for foreign animal disease programs and policies. Since 2017, she has been the USDA–ARS National Program Leader for Animal Health with responsibility for the National Animal Health Research Program at ARS, oversight as ARS Science Team Lead of the research transition plan for the Plum Island Animal Disease Center to the National Bio and Agrodefense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan (KS), and the NBAF ARS Workforce Development Plan. Dr. Motroni is highly regarded as a scientific and administrative leader, and as a professional role model. 

  • 2021
  • Kimberly Dodd, MS, DVM '15, Ph.D. '14

    Kimberly Dodd, MS, DVM '15, Ph.D. '14

    Dr. Dodd is honored with the Rising Star Alumni Award for her extraordinary leadership in the diagnosis and prevention of infectious diseases of livestock and people. Director of the National Veterinary Services Laboratories’ (NVSL) Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (FADDL) administers the nation’s foreign animal disease surveillance program. She is also leading FADDL’s transition from Plum Island (NY) to the new National Bio and Agro-Defense (NBAF) facility in Manhattan (KS). To ensure a highly skilled work force, Dr. Dodd established and directs the NBAF Scientist Training Program to train veterinary clinician scientists capable of working with, and understanding the global impact, of BSL-4 pathogens, and the USDA APHIS NBAF Laboratorian Training Program for training of skilled laboratory technical staff. Dr. Dodd is highly regarded as a scientific and administrative leader, and professional role model.

  • 2020

    Brian Bird, MPH, PhD, DVM.Brian Bird, MPH, PhD, DVM

    Dr. Bird is honored with the inaugural Rising Star Alumni Award for his dedication to understanding and preventing viral diseases in people and animals using the One Health approach. He is recognized as a leading One Health practitioner in the global community. Bird worked for the CDC in Africa for almost 10 years, most notably as a lead investigator during the Ebola outbreak in 2014. Bird serves as a visible global ambassador for the school, and embodies the spirit of both "scientific achievement" as well as providing "outstanding service benefitting animal, human, and environmental health.”