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The People of the VandeWoude Laboratory

Sue VandeWoude, DVM
Professor, Associate Dean for Research

Dr. VandeWoude completed her BS at California Institute of Technology and her DVM at Virginia Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. After a brief stint in Clinical Veterinary Practice she performed a post-doctoral fellowship in Comparative Medicine at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Her post-doctoral research involved characterization of the viral agent associated with Borna Disease Agent. She joined Colorado State University in 1990 and obtained Diplomate status in the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine in 1991. Dr. VandeWoude has served a variety of roles at CSU, including Clinical Veterinarian, Associate Director and Director of Laboratory Animal Resources. She has been a faculty member in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology since 1991 (when it was then the Department of Pathology), and is currently Professor of Comparative Medicine and serves as Associate Dean for Research in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

Dr. VandeWoude's research interests include biology and pathogenesis of Feline Immunodeficiency Virus infections in both domestic and nondomestic felids. Her laboratory studies these viruses in the context of an animal model for HIV/AIDS and as an agent useful for investigation of Ecology of Infectious Disease in charismatic large felid species such as pumas and bobcats. She also studies aspects of laboratory animal medicine and husbandry to develop performance-based standards and practices. She enjoys interacting with students and facilitating research at both the local/lab and administrative level. Outside of work she enjoys engaging her children in lively conversations, hiking, and raising an occasional turkey.


Research Associates 


Research Associate/Lab Manager

Mary came to Colorado after having earned her undergraduate in Political Science at Winona State University in Minnesota and her Masters of Public Administration at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois. After working in nonprofit management for several years, Mary decided to pursue a new career in veterinary medicine. While going back to school for her vet tech degree at Front Range Community College, Mary fell in love with her clinical pathology and microbiology courses.  Through these courses, Mary discovered her love of lab work and research and quickly made it her goal to work in a lab.  After working at several vet clinics and at CSU’s veterinary diagnostic lab, Mary now serves in the VandeWoude lab both as a Research Associate and the lab manager.  This position combines Mary’s unique background both in management and science.  In her spare time, Mary loves to go bike riding, running, hiking, taking pictures, defeating her husband in board games, and most of all traveling. 

Lab Technician

Originally from Fairbanks, Alaska, Sally completed her B.S in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience at Colorado State University. Before joining SVRG, Sally worked in cellular and molecular neuroscience research as well as cognitive psychology research. She is currently taking a gap year to gain further research and laboratory experience in molecular techniques before pursuing graduate school. Sally is working in SVRG conducting various assays and helping with laboratory administrative duties. In her spare time Sally enjoys paddle boarding, hiking, cross-stitching, and teaching herself the piano. 


Graduate Students

Elliott Chiu, MS
Combined PhD & Veterinary Student

Elliott was born in Saskatchewan and lived in Canada before moving to the United States. He completed his B.S. in biology and M.S. in environmental science at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA. During his time in Philadelphia, he worked at GlaxoSmithKline performing drug metabolism and pharmacokinetic research on pre-clinical drug compounds for heart failure. Elliott's masters thesis took him to West Africa where he studied the feeding ecology of the Fea's chameleon, an endemic chameleon to Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea. Currently, Elliott is in the second year of the DVM/PhD program at CSU. His work focuses on the influence of genetics on infection and pathogenesis of feline leukemia virus in bobcats and mountain lions. Elliott is interested in disease ecology and infectious diseases of wildlife. When he is not in school, Elliott loves to travel, rock climb, and other outdoor activities, while dabbling in the occasional entomological, photography, or cinematography project on the side.

Roderick Gagne, PhD
Post-Doctoral Fellow

Originally from Philadelphia, Erick obtained his Bachelor of Science from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.  He then moved to New Orleans where he obtained a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology studying an invasive parasite infecting Hawaiian stream fishes. Erick’s work uses molecular and ecological techniques to better understand population structure of wildlife as well as the origin and epidemiology of infectious disease in wildlife. His work spans multiple taxa, including freshwater fishes, sea otters, and mountain lions. In the VandeWoude lab, his work is focused upon overlaying puma landscape genomics with that of chronic retroviruses to better understand disease spread across heterogeneous landscapes. In addition, he is working on projects involving viral discovery and viral evolution in wildlife and domestic cats. In his spare time Erick enjoys hiking, surfing, skiing, and generally spending time outdoors with his wife Ashley and their two dogs. 

Born and raised in the Bay Area of California, Alex grew up with a love of animals. She moved to Davis, CA where she completed her undergraduate degree (B.S. – biochemical engineering) in 2014 and began research work with animals. In 2018, she earned her veterinary degree (DVM) from UC Davis. During veterinary school, she further developed her passion for feline medicine and decided to pursue a career in feline medicine research. She is currently pursuing her PhD at CSU Fort Collins in the SVRG lab where her work focuses on feline ringworm. Her interests include developing new diagnostics and therapeutics for clinically-relevant feline diseases, particularly infectious diseases. In her spare time, she is hiking with her two big fluff dogs (a Newfoundland and Great Pyrenees), traveling, practicing her Japanese, or reading sci-fi novels with her Siamese cat.



Nick Dannemiller
Veterinary Student

Originally from the rainy and idyllic Portland, Oregon, Nick had a blast earning his undergraduate degree in Wildlife Biology from CSU. Currently, he is a 3rd year DVM student at CSU and daydreams about future careers in wildlife health, disease ecology, and epidemiology. Nick’s past research experience includes working on white-nose syndrome in North American bats and investigating health problems in rainbow lorikeets as a research fellow at the San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research. Nick also currently works for the USDA’s National Wildlife Research Center primarily on avian influenza and avian toxicology. In his free time, he enjoys running, reading, anything outdoors, and trying to eat excessively large burritos.

Sarah Kechejian
Veterinary Student

Sarah came to CSU after obtaining her B.S. in zoology from the University of Vermont. Currently in her second year of the DVM program, her decision to pursue research was prompted largely by her interest in applied conservation medicine and disease ecology. Her previous research ranges from demographic and population surveys in northern Botswana to collaborating on a biogeographic phylogenetic study of the spider genus Deinopis to characterize the geologic history of the Caribbean. As part of the 2017 Summer Scholars program at CSU, Sarah’s research compared screening approaches for FFV in Colorado mountain lions. Continuing on into the 2017/2018 academic year, Sarah will continue screening for FFV in domestic and wild felid populations across California, Colorado, and Florida, as well as embark on other projects within the SVRG. When she gets off campus, Sarah loves painting, hiking, writing poetry, and reading lyrical fiction.

Emma Krakoff
Veterinary Student

Emma is originally from Phoenix, Arizona. She completed her undergraduate degree in biochemistry at Colorado College and is now in her second year of veterinary school at CSU. Her current interests include epidemiology, infectious disease, and equine medicine. She just completed a summer research project on equine major histocompatibility complex genetics through the Cornell Leadership Program in Ithaca, New York. In the past, she has been a part of various research projects in epigenetics, drug development, and sloth ecology. Now in the VandeWoude lab, she is studying the evolution rates of FIV, FeLV, and FFV in different host species. Emma’s hobbies include running, horseback riding, and hiking.  In her spare time, she has been enjoying exploring Fort Collins and Colorado.

Raegan Petch
Undergraduate Microbiology Student

Raegan is a Colorado native, born and raised in Elbert, Colorado. She graduated from Pine Creek High School in Colorado Springs, CO in May 2017. She is an undergraduate at CSU, majoring in Microbiology with a Spanish minor. Her future goals are to attend veterinary school and pursue a PhD.  In the VandeWoude lab, she is enjoying learning about all aspects of lab research and is particularly interested in studying zoonotic diseases in the future. Raegan has spent several years volunteering on the medications team of the National Mill Dog Rescue in Peyton, CO and also the Colorado Animal Welfare League with their spay and neuter clinics. She is passionate about working with animal rescues in the future. Raegan loves to explore Colorado through hiking and skiing. She also enjoys playing the piano and trumpet and spending time with friends and family.​

Cassidy Stone
Veterinary Student

Originally from New Mexico, Cassidy pursued higher education in hopes of joining the field of veterinary medicine due to her passion of working with animals while growing up. She completed her undergraduate degree in biomedical sciences in 2018. She worked on research with synergistic drugs acting against antibiotic resistance and cancer research during this time, but transitioned to being a veterinary technician and volunteering at wildlife centers. In 2018, she started in CSU's DVM program where she hopes to work in a mixed animal practice upon graduating. Joining SVRG she hopes to aid in the understanding of feline viruses and their significance. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, hiking, and trying new foods.​

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