Margie Lee has been selected as the 2023 recipient of the Phibro Animal Health Excellence in Poultry Research Award.
The Phibro award is presented to a member of the American Association of Avian Pathologists who has demonstrated sustained excellence in research of poultry disease and health over a period of 20 years or more.
The award has been presented since 2003, although a similar award, the Pfizer Excellence in Poultry Research Award, preceded it as far back as 1995. Margie Lee ’82, DVM '86, associate dean for research and graduate studies at Lee, is the 27th recipient of the poultry research award in its two iterations.
Lee said she was humbled by the honor, recalling her circuitous path into poultry research.
“I went to the University of Georgia to receive training in medical microbiology with no intention of working on poultry,” said Lee, who received master’s and doctoral degrees in medical microbiology at the University of Georgia after her 1986 DVM at Virginia Tech. “I ended up not only working on a poultry pathogen for my Ph.D. but I continued research in poultry disease pathogens and poultry food safety pathogens for the majority of my career, culminating in a research program in poultry intestinal microbiomes.
“Who knew that chicken poop could be so interesting?”
Lee is the author or co-author of 92 peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals. She holds two patents on diagnostic methods for Pasteurella bacteria.
“Not only was the microbiome research fascinating, but it enabled the poultry industry to implement antibiotic-free growth programs,” Lee said. “I’m so proud to have been able to contribute to this important advance in animal production.”
Lee is on the editorial board of the Avian Diseases journal and advises on animal health microbiology for the American Society for Microbiology’s Public and Scientific Affairs Committee. She has served in the past on the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity of the National Institutes of Health, the National Advisory Committee for the Microbiological Contamination of Foods of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and technical advisor for the United States Poultry and Egg Association, among other appointments to scientific advisory boards.
Lee is a past recipient of the J.C. Feeley Award for Environmental Microbiology given by the Southeastern Branch of American Society for Microbiology in 2013; Dave Tyler Award for technological innovations in teaching in 2006; Margaret Green Award for Outstanding Service in teaching microbiology at the undergraduate level, given by the Southeastern Branch of American Society for Microbiology in 2005; and the P.P. Levine Award for the best paper published in volume 39 of Avian Diseases awarded by the American Association of Avian Pathologists in 1996.
Named a distinguished alumnus of the veterinary college at the Virginia Tech 125th Founder’s Day celebration in 1997, Lee was among the third class of graduates from the veterinary college in 1986 and one of its earliest Black graduates. A native of eastern Bedford County, she returned to Virginia Tech as head of the veterinary college’s Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology in 2018.
Lee has served as interim director of the Animal Cancer Care and Research Center, a teaching hospital and translational research center of the college located in Roanoke, during the past year.