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2018 Alumni Recognition Award Winners

The Alumni Society Recognition Awards are presented annually during Homecoming Weekend. These awards are given to alumni who have shown distinction through their professional or non-professional activities.  This year, we're proud to grant the award to four alumni who have set themselves apart through excellence in veterinary medicine or enhancing their community. Click here to see a list of past Alumni Society Recognition Award winners, and read more about the 2018 winners below. 

Brian Cassell, DVM '86   

Following graduation from the Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine in 1986, Dr. Brian Cassell worked as an associate in mixed and small animal medicine before co-founding the Anne Arundel Veterinary Emergency Clinic in 1990 in Annapolis, Maryland. During the following 15 years this practice became the preeminent regional emergency practice. After leaving practice in 2005, Dr. Cassell used his experience and innovations working as a consultant for referral practices, veterinary schools and investment groups. He also co-founded MOON, described as an innovative business services organization serving multiple independently owned specialty and referral practices. He also worked as a director and board member of Animalgesic Labs, assisting in the development and market introduction of the company’s lab animal analgesia line; and on the Veterinary Strategic Services team for Zoetis. Dr. Cassell is currently the Chief Strategic Officer of Ethos Veterinary Health, a national specialty and emergency clinic consolidator. As a consultant, director and executive officer, he continues to bring his innovation, application and creativity to the veterinary profession.


James E. Estep, DVM '81, PhD

Dr. Estep graduated from the College of Veterinary Medicine in 1981 and received his PhD degree in pharmacology/toxicology from the University of California, Davis in 1990. He has over 30 years of experience in medical research, laboratory and program management, intelligence assessments and senior policy formulation. He retired as a lieutenant colonel after 20 years in the U.S. Army working in research and development and managed the U.S. Army program for biological arms control and treaty compliance. He also served as Senior Policy Advisor supporting the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs for chemical and biological issues. Following retirement from the military, Dr. Estep worked for Battelle Labs before retiring as vice president and manager of their biocontainment laboratory (BBRC) that directly supports the U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command and other USG research organizations. He served on the Material Technology Advisory Committee (MTAC) and chaired the committee for two years. His personal research expertise is in inhalation exposure of infectious and toxic materials and the toxicity of natural compounds, primarily focused on the development of countermeasures against biological warfare agents. Dr. Estep most recently served as an independent research consultant in the areas of biological and chemical medical defense, pharmaceutical product development and biocontainment laboratory management.


Michelle Harcha, DVM '85, MA

Following her graduation from the Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine in 1985, Dr. Michelle Harcha has had a diverse career in private practice, emergency medicine, industry and academia. She has also obtained certification as a facilitator in leadership, personality traits, emotional intelligence, communications and teamwork, which has enabled her to offer significant contributions to veterinary students and other healthcare professionals. She obtained her MA in business management from Antioch University in 2001.  After receiving her DVM degree, Dr. Harcha worked in several small animal and emergency hospitals in Cincinnati. She then went on to pursue several positions with Hill’s Pet Nutrition from 1995-2007, most recently as their Veterinary Affairs Manager, before accepting positions for the next ten years at the Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine. There she served as Director of Alumni Affairs, Director of Professional Development Education, and team leader of the Professional Development Curriculum. Dr. Harcha left the university in 2017 to provide consulting and advising services to the veterinary industry and to teach a variety of self-awareness assessments and communication workshops (LeadYourShipLLC).