AAVMC Names Recipients of 2020 Iverson Bell Awards

Washington, D.C., February 18, 2020  ­– The American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) has named Drs. Jaime Gongora from the Sydney School of Veterinary Science (SSVS) at the University of Sydney and Sandra San Miguel from the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine as recipients of 2020 Iverson Bell Awards. One award is sponsored by Banfield Animal Health and one award is sponsored by Elanco.

The award is presented in recognition of outstanding leadership and contributions in promoting opportunities for under-represented minorities in veterinary medical education.

“Every day, educators and researchers at our member institutions make outstanding contributions to academic veterinary medicine that inspire others, contribute to medical breakthroughs and work to educate upcoming generations of veterinarians,” said AAVMC Chief Executive Officer Dr. Andrew T. Maccabe. “We are pleased to honor these extraordinary individuals through our awards program and look forward to recognizing their achievements during our 2020 annual conference.”

Dr. Gongora is an associate professor in animal and wildlife genetics and genomics at SSVS and associate dean for Indigenous strategy and services for the Faculty of Science. Initiatives implemented by Dr. Gongora span the areas of cultural competence, curriculum development, student support and fostering collaborative research with Australia’s historically disadvantaged Indigenous population. His work includes establishing a faculty network of academics as advisors and/or mentors for indigenous students and organizing summer and winter programs that bring Indigenous students to campus.

In Australia, Indigenous people are Australia’s most educationally disadvantaged group, with fewer than 40 percent completing high school, and only 0.7 percent participating in higher education, wrote former SSVS Dean Rosanne Taylor, who was among those who nominated Gongora for the award.  Taylor described how Dr. Gongora’s outstanding efforts and “leadership in advancing diversity and inclusion in the field of veterinary medicine has led a cultural shift in our school to embrace cultural competence by staff and students, celebrate Australian Indigenous cultures and support Australian Indigenous students.” As a result, Indigenous students are now proportionally represented within the SSVS student body.

Dr. Gongora earned a bachelor of education in biology and chemistry from Libre University, Colombia, a master’s degree in biology from Pontificia Javerina University, Colombia, and a PhD in animal genetics from the University of Sydney, Australia.

Dr. San Miguel is associate dean for engagement and a faculty member in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at Purdue. Her initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion include developing Fat Dogs and Coughing Horses: Animal Contributions Towards a Healthier Citizenry, a program for K-12 students, parents, teachers and the public about the science involved in keeping people healthy. That led to the development of “This is How we ‘Role’,” an innovative after-school role-modeling program that focuses on students in grades K-4 who are educationally disadvantaged because of socioeconomic status, race, or ethnicity and is designed to address the challenge of diversifying the veterinarian-scientist workforce. Both programs were supported by the National Institutes of Health’s NIGMS Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA). She also co-edited Navigating Diversity and Inclusion in Veterinary Medicine, the first book of its kind in veterinary medicine, and helped establish the Center of Excellence for Diversity and Inclusion in Veterinary Medicine certificate program in partnership with the AAVMC and the American Veterinary Medical Association.

In nominating her for the award, Purdue CVM Dean Dr. Willie Reed wrote that programs implemented by Dr. San Miguel, “have become models for other veterinary medical schools and colleges and hold great promise for inspiring future generations of veterinary medical professionals.” He added that,

“Her professionalism and dedication to excellence is exceeded only by her genuine passion for bettering the lives of others and truly diversifying the profession of veterinary medicine.”

Dr. San Miguel is a Diplomate Emeritus of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (Swine Health Management). She earned her master’s degree, doctorate and DVM degree, all from Purdue University.

The awards will be presented during the AAVMC’s 2020 Annual Conference and Iverson Bell Symposium, March 6-8, 2020 at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.


The member institutions of the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) promote and protect the health and wellbeing of people, animals and the environment by advancing the profession of veterinary medicine and preparing new generations of veterinarians to meet the evolving needs of a changing world. Founded in 1966, the AAVMC represents more than 40,000 faculty, staff and students across the global academic veterinary medical community. Our member institutions include 53 Council on Education (COE) accredited veterinary medical colleges and schools in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand; 23 provisional and collaborating members; and departments of veterinary science and departments of comparative medicine in the U.S.

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Download a photo of Dr. Gongora here.

Download a photo of Dr. San Miguel here