Sponseller Named Lora and Russ Talbot Endowed Professor in Veterinary Medicine

October 5, 2023

Dr. Brett Sponseller, professor of veterinary clinical sciences and veterinary microbiology and preventive medicine, has been named the inaugural recipient of the third Lora and Russ Talbot Endowed Professor in Veterinary Medicine.

The endowed faculty position is one of three named professorships that the Talbots have established in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Rachel Allbaugh, professor of veterinary clinical sciences, and Dr. Heather Greenlee, professor of biomedical sciences, are the other two Talbot Endowed Professors.

A faculty member in the College of Veterinary Medicine since 2003, Sponseller earned his DVM from Cornell University and a PhD from Iowa State University. He did his residency at the University of California-Davis. A Diplomate in the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, Sponseller is a member of the American Society for Virology and the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

Sponseller has teaching responsibilities in equine medicine and veterinary virology. His research interests include equine viral diseases and equine neonatal immunology.

He is the recipient of multiple awards including the ISU Regents Award for Faculty Excellence, the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Teaching, the ISU Exemplary Faculty Award, the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Basic Sciences Teaching Award, and the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine’s Hero in Medicine Award.

Sponseller intends to use the funds from the Talbot Professorship to conduct vaccine development research and partially fund a research project by an Iowa State undergraduate student who plans to enter veterinary school.

“I also plan to use the funds to extend a collaborative project on script-concordance testing of veterinary students,” Sponseller said. “I believe each of these areas will pay dividends and benefit the veterinary profession.

“I’m grateful to Lora and Russ Talbot who have established this wonderful professorship. This is even more meaningful to me, because the Talbots have previously supported a veterinary medicine student during her graduate training in my laboratory.”

“We are completely overflowing with pride and excitement that Dr. Sponseller has been selected as our third Endowed Professor,” Lora and Russ Talbot said. “We wholeheartedly applaud him as an absolutely stellar role model for the College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State and the veterinary profession. He is most deserving of the many accolades he has received and is an icon of excellence as well as a symbol of the highest quality faculty member.”

The Talbots are long-time supporters of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Iowa State University. The Belmond, Iowa, couple have supported many different areas of the college including multiple four-year and two-year student scholarships as well as graduate fellowships. Their extraordinary gift to the ISU Alumni Association created a first-in-the-nation endowed alumni position for the association’s president and CEO. The couple established completion grant scholarships for undergraduate students and funded significant endowments for the College of Human Sciences’ Fashion Show’s “Best in Show” award and the Merchandising Scholarship.

Lora and Russ received the ISU Foundation Order of the Knoll Cardinal & Gold Award in 2013.  In 2017, the couple was named the recipient of the ISU Alumni Association Honorary Alumni Award and two years later they received the William P. Switzer Award in Veterinary Medicine from the College of Veterinary Medicine. Both are ISU Foundation governors and members of the Order of the Knoll Society of the True and Valiant and the Campanile Society. They are lifetime members and sustaining life donors of the ISU Alumni Association and longtime members and supporters of the Cyclone Club. In the College of Veterinary Medicine, they served as co-chairs of the Campaign Committee for Forever True, For Iowa State. In addition, they were honorary co-chairs of the Alumni Association Campaign Cabinet.

“One of our long-term goals with our philanthropy to the College of Veterinary Medicine has been to endow faculty positions,” the couple said. “That goal has now become a reality. Establishing endowed professor positions is a special opportunity to support and promote the future of veterinary medicine. We greatly value and deeply appreciate the outstanding high-quality faculty which we have at Vet Med. We have enjoyed many, many positive experiences, interactions, and activities with the exceptional ISU Vet Med faculty.”

The Lora and Russ Talbot Endowed Professors in Veterinary Medicine were designed to be flexible for the areas of veterinary medicine which they can cover and not be limited to a specific area of expertise.

“We desire that they will encompass the entire wide range of veterinary medicine. With the selection of Dr. Sponseller, our three Endowed Professors now cover a great diverse cross section of veterinary medicine. This is exactly what we were hoping to achieve,” Lora and Russ said. “Our target has been that our Talbot Endowed Professors be used to support the areas of greatest need and impact. We want to do all we can to help in recruiting, retaining, and rewarding the best and the brightest faculty.”