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.