Person

Deb Miller, DVM, PhD

Professor | School of Natural Resources
Overview

Dr. Debra Miller is Professor and Director of the Center for Wildlife Health in the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. She has a split appointment between the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries. She received her BS in wildlife from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, her MS (wildlife), DVM and PhD (wildlife and veterinary science) from Mississippi State University, and completed a postdoc in comparative pathology at the University of Miami School of Medicine. She spent 10 years at the University of Georgia before making the University of Tennessee her home. Dr. Miller is interested in all aspects of wildlife (including fisheries) health. Her expertise is in pathology, particularly pathology of herpetofauna (especially amphibians). Her primary research areas are amphibian diseases (particularly those caused by ranaviruses and chytrid fungi), sea turtle (especially leatherbacks) hatchling health and the impact of environmental stressors, and the impact of contaminants on marine mammals. Her research approach is multidisciplinary, with institutional, national, and international collaborations. Her primary research partner in amphibian disease studies is her husband, Dr. Matthew Gray. Together they conduct experimental challenges combined with field surveillance to identify factors contributing to ranavirus-related mortality events and to identify mitigation strategies to thwart the expansion of Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal). Recently, they launched the Global Ranavirus Reporting System (mantle.io/grrs), which will provide scientists a portal for uploading information regarding ranavirus-associated mortality events. Currently, they are actively engaged in an NSF-funded study to investigate transmission pathways and immunological factors driving the invasion potential of Bsal. In collaboration with Dr. Jeanette Wyneken (Florida Atlantic University), Dr. Miller investigates issues related to sea turtle hatchling health, such as mercury and selenium. In collaboration with Dr. Todd O�Hara (University of Alaska Fairbanks) she investigates pathological changes in marine mammals (e.g., dolphin skin) associated with contaminants. To date, she has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles, 6 book chapters, served as the editor for 1 book, and delivered over 150 professional presentations. Dr. Miller teaches in the wildlife health program and her teaching philosophy is similar to her research philosophy: It takes a team of experts to investigate issues in One Health. Thus, she provides students opportunities to work as members of teams of experts. This is accomplished at multiple levels, in the classroom for team projects and in the field on research studies. Dr. Miller is also dedicated to service. She is currently the president of the Wildlife Disease Association and co-chairs or is a member of various regional, national and international committees and task teams focused on herpetofaunal diseases.

Research Questions
  • My research is quite diverse, yet focused on wildlife and fish health. I have studied species ranging from marine mammals and fish to coyotes and bobcats. Currently, a large portion of my research investigations are focused on amphibians, primarily investigating the pathogenesis of the disease (chytridiomycosis) caused by the amphibian pathogen, Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans. This pathogen has caused devastating declines in salamanders in Europe, and we are in a race to keep it out of North America, or at least be able to manage it if it does arrive. Dr. Matthew Gray and I are collaborators on this project, and together we have investigated many amphibian pathogens, including Ranaviruses. Another amphibian health issue that is a top priority of mine is one that I conduct in collaboration with Dr. Becky Hardman; it is investigating the health status of our giant salamander, the hellbender. These creatures are disappearing in many areas and we have yet to understand why. This particular species is the focus of a research collaboration that involves many researchers and biologists throughout the hellbender range. Another primary area of research is my sea turtle study, conducted in collaboration with Dr. Jeanette Wyneken of Florida Atlantic University. One question we are trying to answer is what impact elevated environmental temperatures are having on hatchlings. This is a critical study because elevated environmental temperatures mean elevated beach temperatures, which means elevated incubation temperatures. Temperatures beyond a critical point during incubation can result in detrimental effects or even death to the developing embryos. In addition to these studies, I have recently begun collaborating with Drs. Clay Hilton and Michael Tewes of Texas A&M and Dr. Bill Swanson of Cincinnati Zoo Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife. The goal of this study is to improve the genetics of wild ocelots in Texas and to assess the health of the ocelot populations.
Courses
Below are courses taught during the current or past three academic years. Consult Timetable for the most current listing of courses and instructor(s).
CEM 510 - Graduate Research Participation
1 - 6 credit hours

Advanced research techniques while conducting individual biomedical research projects under supervision of faculty.

Repeatability: May be repeated. Maximum 12 hours.
Comment(s): Open to all graduate students.
Registration Permission: Consent of instructor.

Other Instructors: Whitlock, Brian Keith | Odoi, Agricola | Millis, Darryl L | Okafor, Chika C | Anderson, David Edgar | Sultana, Hameeda

CEM 612 - Journal Club in Biomedical and Diagnostic Sciences
1 credit hour(s)

Readings and discussions based on current literature.

Repeatability: May be repeated. Maximum 12 hours.
Registration Restriction(s): Minimum student level – graduate.

Other Instructors: Whitlock, Brian Keith | Sheldon, Julie Deanne | Cushing, Andrew | Schaefer, Deanna M | Lear, Andrea Sketch | Giori, Luca | Neelakanta, Girish | Abouelkhair, Mohamed | Caldwell, Marc

WFS 101 - Current Topics in Wildlife Health
1 credit hour(s)

All aspects of wildlife health, including current topics, emerging diseases, impact of diseases on wildlife populations, general disease mechanisms, and career opportunities in the wildlife profession.

Other Instructors: Gray, Matt

WFS 401 - Ecology and Management of Wildlife Health
3 credit hour(s)

Review of ecological and environmental factors affecting wildlife health, and tools available for effective wildlife disease surveillance and management. Emphasis on the importance of multidisciplinary and interagency collaboration for management of wildlife health problems. (Same as WFS 501.) Satisfies Volunteer Core Requirement: (EI) (WC)
(RE) Prerequisite(s) : ENGL 102, ENGL 112, ENGL 132, or ENGL 298.

WFS 560 - Advanced Topics in Wildlife and Fisheries Science
1 - 3 credit hours

Recent advances and concepts, research techniques and analysis of current problems.

Repeatability: May be repeated. Maximum 6 hours.
(RE) Prerequisite(s) : 443, 444, and 445 or consent of instructor.

Picture of Deb Miller, DVM, PhD
A201 Veterinary Medical Center
2407 River Drive
Knoxville, TN 37996-4542
Education and Training
  • Doctorate, Veterinary Medicine, General, Mississippi State University, 1995
  • DVM, Veterinary Clinical Sciences, General, Mississippi State University, 1992
  • MS, Wildlife, Fish and Wildlands Science and Managemen, Mississippi State University, 1987
  • BS, Wildlife Biology, Univ of Wiscons Stevens Point, 1984

Deb Miller, DVM, PhD

Professor | School of Natural Resources
Picture of Deb Miller, DVM, PhD image
A201 Veterinary Medical Center
2407 River Drive
Knoxville, TN 37996-4542
Education and Training
  • Doctorate, Veterinary Medicine, General, Mississippi State University, 1995
  • DVM, Veterinary Clinical Sciences, General, Mississippi State University, 1992
  • MS, Wildlife, Fish and Wildlands Science and Managemen, Mississippi State University, 1987
  • BS, Wildlife Biology, Univ of Wiscons Stevens Point, 1984
Overview

Dr. Debra Miller is Professor and Director of the Center for Wildlife Health in the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. She has a split appointment between the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries. She received her BS in wildlife from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, her MS (wildlife), DVM and PhD (wildlife and veterinary science) from Mississippi State University, and completed a postdoc in comparative pathology at the University of Miami School of Medicine. She spent 10 years at the University of Georgia before making the University of Tennessee her home. Dr. Miller is interested in all aspects of wildlife (including fisheries) health. Her expertise is in pathology, particularly pathology of herpetofauna (especially amphibians). Her primary research areas are amphibian diseases (particularly those caused by ranaviruses and chytrid fungi), sea turtle (especially leatherbacks) hatchling health and the impact of environmental stressors, and the impact of contaminants on marine mammals. Her research approach is multidisciplinary, with institutional, national, and international collaborations. Her primary research partner in amphibian disease studies is her husband, Dr. Matthew Gray. Together they conduct experimental challenges combined with field surveillance to identify factors contributing to ranavirus-related mortality events and to identify mitigation strategies to thwart the expansion of Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal). Recently, they launched the Global Ranavirus Reporting System (mantle.io/grrs), which will provide scientists a portal for uploading information regarding ranavirus-associated mortality events. Currently, they are actively engaged in an NSF-funded study to investigate transmission pathways and immunological factors driving the invasion potential of Bsal. In collaboration with Dr. Jeanette Wyneken (Florida Atlantic University), Dr. Miller investigates issues related to sea turtle hatchling health, such as mercury and selenium. In collaboration with Dr. Todd O�Hara (University of Alaska Fairbanks) she investigates pathological changes in marine mammals (e.g., dolphin skin) associated with contaminants. To date, she has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles, 6 book chapters, served as the editor for 1 book, and delivered over 150 professional presentations. Dr. Miller teaches in the wildlife health program and her teaching philosophy is similar to her research philosophy: It takes a team of experts to investigate issues in One Health. Thus, she provides students opportunities to work as members of teams of experts. This is accomplished at multiple levels, in the classroom for team projects and in the field on research studies. Dr. Miller is also dedicated to service. She is currently the president of the Wildlife Disease Association and co-chairs or is a member of various regional, national and international committees and task teams focused on herpetofaunal diseases.

Research Questions
  • My research is quite diverse, yet focused on wildlife and fish health. I have studied species ranging from marine mammals and fish to coyotes and bobcats. Currently, a large portion of my research investigations are focused on amphibians, primarily investigating the pathogenesis of the disease (chytridiomycosis) caused by the amphibian pathogen, Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans. This pathogen has caused devastating declines in salamanders in Europe, and we are in a race to keep it out of North America, or at least be able to manage it if it does arrive. Dr. Matthew Gray and I are collaborators on this project, and together we have investigated many amphibian pathogens, including Ranaviruses. Another amphibian health issue that is a top priority of mine is one that I conduct in collaboration with Dr. Becky Hardman; it is investigating the health status of our giant salamander, the hellbender. These creatures are disappearing in many areas and we have yet to understand why. This particular species is the focus of a research collaboration that involves many researchers and biologists throughout the hellbender range. Another primary area of research is my sea turtle study, conducted in collaboration with Dr. Jeanette Wyneken of Florida Atlantic University. One question we are trying to answer is what impact elevated environmental temperatures are having on hatchlings. This is a critical study because elevated environmental temperatures mean elevated beach temperatures, which means elevated incubation temperatures. Temperatures beyond a critical point during incubation can result in detrimental effects or even death to the developing embryos. In addition to these studies, I have recently begun collaborating with Drs. Clay Hilton and Michael Tewes of Texas A&M and Dr. Bill Swanson of Cincinnati Zoo Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife. The goal of this study is to improve the genetics of wild ocelots in Texas and to assess the health of the ocelot populations.
Courses
Below are courses taught during the current or past three academic years. Consult Timetable for the most current listing of courses and instructor(s).
CEM 510 - Graduate Research Participation
1 - 6 credit hours

Advanced research techniques while conducting individual biomedical research projects under supervision of faculty.

Repeatability: May be repeated. Maximum 12 hours.
Comment(s): Open to all graduate students.
Registration Permission: Consent of instructor.

Other Instructors: Whitlock, Brian Keith | Odoi, Agricola | Millis, Darryl L | Okafor, Chika C | Anderson, David Edgar | Sultana, Hameeda

CEM 612 - Journal Club in Biomedical and Diagnostic Sciences
1 credit hour(s)

Readings and discussions based on current literature.

Repeatability: May be repeated. Maximum 12 hours.
Registration Restriction(s): Minimum student level – graduate.

Other Instructors: Whitlock, Brian Keith | Sheldon, Julie Deanne | Cushing, Andrew | Schaefer, Deanna M | Lear, Andrea Sketch | Giori, Luca | Neelakanta, Girish | Abouelkhair, Mohamed | Caldwell, Marc

WFS 101 - Current Topics in Wildlife Health
1 credit hour(s)

All aspects of wildlife health, including current topics, emerging diseases, impact of diseases on wildlife populations, general disease mechanisms, and career opportunities in the wildlife profession.

Other Instructors: Gray, Matt

WFS 401 - Ecology and Management of Wildlife Health
3 credit hour(s)

Review of ecological and environmental factors affecting wildlife health, and tools available for effective wildlife disease surveillance and management. Emphasis on the importance of multidisciplinary and interagency collaboration for management of wildlife health problems. (Same as WFS 501.) Satisfies Volunteer Core Requirement: (EI) (WC)
(RE) Prerequisite(s) : ENGL 102, ENGL 112, ENGL 132, or ENGL 298.

WFS 560 - Advanced Topics in Wildlife and Fisheries Science
1 - 3 credit hours

Recent advances and concepts, research techniques and analysis of current problems.

Repeatability: May be repeated. Maximum 6 hours.
(RE) Prerequisite(s) : 443, 444, and 445 or consent of instructor.