LSU Vet Med conferred four degrees at fall commencement

graduates and mentors at Fall 2023 commencement

Mark Mitchell, Juan Martinez, Heidi Banse, Linda Paul, Erik Turner, Rebecca Christofferson, Tammy Dugas, Oliver Garden, Ankit Aryal, Gus Kousoulas

On December 15, 2023, the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine conferred four degrees: three PhD degrees and one Master’s degree.

Oliver Garden, BVetMed, PhD, LSU Vet Med dean and Kenneth Burns Endowed Chair in Veterinary Medicine, welcomed the graduates, mentors, and guests. Tammy Dugas, PhD, associate dean for research and graduate education, and Juan Martinez, PhD, director of graduate education, introduced the graduates and mentors. Mark Mitchell, DVM, PhD (LSU 2001), professor of zoological medicine, conferred the degrees as the representative of the LSU Graduate School.


Ankit Aryal, BVSc&AH, from Kalika-06, Nepal, received a PhD from the Department of Comparative Biomedical Sciences. His dissertation was entitled, “Mirna as Systemic Mediators for Environmentally Persistent Free Radical Induced Cardiovascular Dysfunction,” and his major advisor was Tammy Dugas, PhD, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education and Professor. Dr. Aryal is interested in pursuing a career in toxicology.

Linda Paul, DVM, DACVIM, from Lake Jackson, Texas, received her PhD from the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences. Her dissertation was entitled, “The Pathophysiology of Equine Glandular Gastric Disease: Investigating the Role of the Mucosal Microbiome and Bile Acid Reflux,” and her major advisor was Heidi Banse, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, associate dean for educational strategy and associate professor of equine medicine. Dr. Paul will seek employment in the animal health industry.

Erik Turner, BS, from Jacksonville, Oregon, received his PhD from the Department of Pathobiological Sciences. His dissertation was entitled, “Investigations of emerging zoonotic and vector-borne viruses at the juncture of environmental, human, and animal health,” and his major advisor was Rebecca Christofferson, MApSt, PhD (LSU 2011), associate professor. Dr. Turner has a fellowship at the Centers for Disease Control, Division of Vector-Borne Diseases - Arbovirus Disease Branch via the Oak Ridge Institute of Education fellowship program.


Liana Baconguis, from Los Baños, Philippines, received her MS from the Department of Comparative Biomedical Sciences. Her thesis was entitled “An Observed Increase in Cardiovascular and Respiratory-Disease Related Hospitalizations and Mortality in an Area Surrounding a Hazardous Waste Thermal Treatment Plant,” and her faculty mentor was Stephania Cormier, PhD, adjunct professor in CBS and professor of biological sciences in the LSU College of Sciences. She has accepted a position as a laboratory assistant at the Yale School of Medicine.

About LSU Vet Med: Bettering lives through education, public service, and discovery

The LSU School of Veterinary Medicine is one of only 33 veterinary schools in the U.S. and the only one in Louisiana. LSU Vet Med is dedicated to improving and protecting the lives of animals and people through superior education, transformational research, and compassionate care. We teach. We heal. We discover. We protect.