Dr. Teresa ‘Taranjit’ Sylvina, President and Founder
As a child Teresa chased bats for fun and participated in large animal research before she was old enough to drive.
In her professional career she has had the good fortune of working with a wide variety of animal species in both research and teaching.
Through a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation, Teresa was a leading member of an international, interdisciplinary team of scientists investigating wild chimpanzees in Africa. Her team was the first to use non-invasive techniques (feces) to diagnose the cause of acute and fatal respiratory illness in wild Great Apes. By combining molecular, microscopic and epidemiological investigations, Dr. Sylvina and her team discovered that a human metapneumovirus – an emerging respiratory pathogen worldwide – was the causative agent of their illness and death.
Her dedication to academic instruction was recognized with XCaliber Team Award in 2009 from Virginia Tech for excellence in technology-assisted teaching and learning on a large-scale project, a portable laboratory that used biomimicry as a design direction with an environmentally-low-impact solution for my field studies at Mahale.
Dr. Sylvina has been in Africa for the last two years working on a US Fish and Wildlife grant.
Laura R. Johnson is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Mississippi.
She conducts and supervises research, trains students in the PhD program, and teaches multicultural, environmental and clinical psychology, an interdisciplinary course on ecology and youth in Tanzania, and intercultural communication for the Croft Institute for International Studies.
Laura’s research is transnational – it spans cultural, conservation and peace psychology with a focus on positive youth development and intercultural relations in a changing global environment. Laura has received two US Fulbright grants for research in East Africa (youth developmental assets and action for the environment and peace), a National Geographic Conservation Trust grant (connected scientists with youth to conduct biodiversity assessments in Uganda) and an IIE grant to provide intercultural training.
Since 2000, Laura has been a research partner with Jane Goodall’s global environmental program, Roots&Shoots and Wildlife Clubs of Uganda. She is an alumni of American Psychological Association’s Committee on International Relations in Psychology (CIRP) (2008-2010) and is currently serving as chair of the long range strategic planning committee of APA‘s international division (#52) and has served on editorial boards of journals including International Perspectives in Psychology: Research, Consultation and Practice, Intercultural Relations, and Ecopsychology. Laura has written several book chapters on multicultural psychology and ethnopolitical conflict and multiple journal articles. Laura co-founded and supervises the Cultural Connections project for international students and the Lambda support group for GLBT students. She has been an international student in Kenya (87-88) and a Peace Corps volunteer in Papua New Guinea (93-95).
Laura received her PhD from the University of Louisville (2003) and completed her internship at the Refugee Health Program of Colorado.
Joyce Landreth has almost 30 years’ experience in Information Technology. She has held positions of increasing responsibility in the private sector, public sector and academia, including Information Technology Support Center Coordinator for the Virginia Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. In her current position as Director for Information Technology Support at Virginia Tech, she is responsible for providing strategic management, planning and direction to the Virginia Tech Information Technology support organization.
She has extensive experience in all levels of computing, including help desk, personnel management, strategic planning, solution development, problem solving, project management, purchasing, and customer support.
Joyce holds a Bachelor of Science, Computer Science as well as a Bachelor of Arts, Sociology from Radford University. She also holds Diversity Ally and Diversity Advocate certificates from Virginia Tech. A self-proclaimed extrovert with an eye for detail, Joyce has made it her life’s work to make connections between people and teams using mostly self-taught communication skills. I love to share my opinions – just ask!
In her spare time, she enjoys watching her children grow into young adulthood and taking care of a gaggle of cats and dogs. She also enjoys traveling, catching up with old friends and meeting new ones.
Christy Whitelaw began work in a small animal veterinary hospitals in 1974. In 1978, she received an AAS in veterinary technology from Central Carolina Technical Institute in Sanford, NC and was credentialed as a registered veterinary technician. Christy continued working in veterinary medicine until 1984, at which time she changed her focus a bit and began working in human medicine as a oral and maxillofacial surgical assistant, attaining certification in the position in 1987 and remaining in the human medicine field until 1994 at which time she returned to the field of veterinary medicine.
In 1998, Christy became a member of the Veterinary Medical Assistance Team (VMAT) under the auspices of National Disaster Medical System and the American Veterinary Medical Association. Her first deployment was to Hurricane Floyd in 1999 after which she also joined the NC State Animal Response Team (NC SART). Other disasters to which Christy was deployed include 9/11 (the VMATs were tasked with support of the USAR dogs), Hurricanes Charlie, Frances, Ivan and Katrina, 2002 Avian Influenza outbreak in Virginia and the 2004 G-8 Summit ( a National Special Security Event in support of the working dogs and horses). In 2002, Christy became the Administrative Officer (GS-12) of National Veterinary Response Team 3 (formally VMAT 3) and remained in that position until her resignation in 2010. During her tenure with the NDMS, Christy received training in ICS, decontamination of humans and animals, response to Weapons of Mass Destruction, Bio/Agri Terrorism, Foreign Animal Disease and has attended several Multi-Hazard One Medicine Symposiums sponsored by the NC Institute of Public Health and NCDACS.
Although the majority of her veterinary work has been with small animals, Christy has always been a lover of horses and a proponent of the human-animal bond. In 1995, she was able to combine the two interests by becoming involved in the field therapeutic riding, first as a volunteer and in 1998 as a registered therapeutic riding instructor.
Christy and her husband, Edwin, moved to Virginia in 2003. In 2005, they started New River Valley Unwired LLC, a company which provides wireless internet service. Christy’s role in the business is as co-owner and CFO. She also continues to volunteer with AVMA’s VMAT 3 and, along with her husband, enjoys her 3 horses, 3 dogs and 2 cats.
Andrew McCann loves building software. He is Principal Product Manager for Team Member Digital Experience at Whole Foods Market, in Austin TX. He is also the founder of 11trees.com, the developer of writing-focused productivity and engagement solutions.
Prior to launching 11trees, McCann led prepU, an adaptive quizzing business within Macmillan New Ventures and, in 2006, founded Waypoint Outcomes, an early leader in the authentic assessment of learning outcomes.
He has worked closely with diverse institutions across the public, private, and for-profit higher education sectors to improve student outcomes through data-driven decision making and prepare for accreditation visits.
McCann holds a BS in Electrical Engineering and an MA in Creative Writing and English Literature. He taught engineering design and humanities in Drexel University’s interdisciplinary first-year engineering curriculum for ten years. Way back in 1998 his short story “Zenith” was chosen by Pulitzer Prize winner Carol Shields for inclusion in an anthology published by Scribners. Earlier in his career he helped build steam turbines, diesel locomotive engines, TV screens, and plate steel.