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Val Beasley

Profile picture for Val Beasley

Contact Information

College of Veterinary Medicine
c/o 198 Blackberry Hill
Port Matilda, PA 16870
Professor Emeritus of Veterinary, Wildlife, and Ecological Toxicology (Comparative


I grew up in the State of Indiana, where I helped raise and care for German shepherds and had other pet animals, including some nontraditional species. I was inspired by my science and other teachers from grade school through junior high and high school as well as in pre-veterinary training at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis. I also was a wrestler in junior high and high school, until I started working in restaurants, grocery stores, construction, and small animal practices. I benefited greatly from mentors at Michigan Road Animal Hospital in Indianapolis and the School of Veterinary Medicine of Purdue University, as well as from my many colleagues over the years. After finishing my DVM, I practiced small animal medicine and surgery in Asbury Park, New Jersey, and in my own practice in Dayton, Ohio, for a total of six years.

After my PhD and residency in toxicology at the University of Illinois, I joined the faculty of the College of Veterinary Medicine there, was promoted to Associate and Full Professor, served for several years at the Chair of Pharmacology and Toxicology and then as Assistant Head for the Department of Comparative Biosciences.  

At The Pennsylvania State University, I served as Professor and Head of the Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences from September, 2014 to November, 2016 and then as Professor of Veterinary, Wildlife, and Ecological Toxicology until retiring from there at the end of June, 2020.

I married Victoria Nahas, an artist, in 1971, and we have two daughters, Lelah who is a PhD student in art education and a fine arts curriculum and instruction specialist, and Livia who founded the Children's Media Association, and writes and produces educational television for children, as well as two granddaughters, Madeleine and Abigail, and one grandson, Darien.

Research Interests

  • Mycotoxins
  • Cyanobacterial (blue-green algal) toxins
  • Pesticides
  • Metals
  • Amphibian declines

Research Description

Initial studies, using funding obtained by Dr. Bill Buck, mentor for my PhD and residency, and Dr. Richard Bevill, former Head of our Department, focused on the fate and effects of trichothecene mycotoxins. My PhD in this regard addressed T-2 toxin in particular. When this agent was reportedly used as a chemical warfare agent in Laos, Cambodia, Afghanistan, and Yemen, we acquired funding from the Department of Defense to answer important questions on toxin fate in the body, pathophysiologic effects culminating in circulatory shock, gross, microscopic and ultrastructural lesions, and rational therapeutic interventions. To establish an independent research program, I worked with a terrific group of colleagues, postdoctoral researchers, graduate students, and technicians on studies of fumonisin-B1 (another mycotoxin), as well as cyanobacterial toxins, including microcystins, nodularin, anatoxin-A, and anatoxin-A(s) (recently renamed guanitoxin). The cyanobacterial toxin work was funded by the Department of Defense and National Institutes of Health. Other research efforts included studies of the effects black walnut shavings on horses; 2,4-D on dogs; citrus oil extracts, chlorpyrifos and PBDE-based flame retardants on cats; and lead residues in dogs; PCB residues in domestic fowl and wild Canada geese; and heavy metals in Arctic polar bears, ring seals, and beluga and bowhead whales. The leader of the latter project with Arctic marine mammals was Dr. Todd O'Hara, now of Texas A & M University's College of Veterinary Medicine.  A concerted effort on the basis for amphibian declines, which has encompassed toxic, infectious, habitat-related, and other stressors was undertaken in collaborations with many other scientists, including Drs. Lauren Brown, Christopher Philips, Lucinda Johnson, Catherine Johnson, Rebecca Cole, Marilyn Ruiz, and Jason Rohr, as well as a number of splendid postdoctoral associates, graduate students, veterinary students, undergraduate students, and technical assistants.  Funding for the amphibian projects came from a wide variety of resources including the Shedd Aquarium, the University of Illinois, conservation foundations, and the US EPA Science to Achieve Results Program.  I also had a good deal of fun acting as a mentor for Dr. Matthew Allender, who did his MS with Drs. Phillips, Dr. Mark Mitchell, and me on infectious diseases of massasauga rattlesnakes.


  • PhD, University of Illinois
  • Residency in Toxicology, University of Illinois
  • DVM, Purdue University

Awards and Honors

  • Beecham Award for Research Excellence, 1990
  • Fulbright Senior Research Scholar, Kenya, 1997
  • College-Wide All-Round Excellence Award, 1998
  • John Gunion Rutherford Memorial Lecturer, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, 2005
  • One Health Concerns published in Journal of the AVMA, 2009 (
  • George C. Poppensiek Visiting Professorship in Global Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, 2011
  • American Board of Veterinary Toxicology, Service Award for Educating Veterinarians in Toxicology, 2014

Courses Taught

Previous Courses Shown

At the College of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Illinois

  • Ecotoxicology of the Northern Hemisphere (Course Co-Director, Lecturer; then Guest Lecturer)
  • Wildlife and Ecosystem Health (Course Director; then Co-Director; and Lecturer)
  • Toxicology (Veterinary) (Primary Instructor)
  • Small Animal Toxicology (Faculty Sponsor and Part-time Instructor)
  • Large Animal Toxicology (Faculty Sponsor and Part-time Instructor)
  • Regulatory Pharmacology and Toxicology (Course Organizer)
  • Analytical Toxicology (Course Organizer)
  • Poisons in Plants and Plant-Associated Materials (Primary Instructor)
  • Basic Toxicology (Guest Lecturer)
  • Systems Toxicology (Guest Lecturer)
  • Envirovet (Executive Director, Lecturer)
  • Ecotoxicology at the School of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania (Guest Lecturer)

At The Pennsylvania State University

  • Mechanisms of Disease (Sole Instructor)
  • Current Issues in Veterinary Medicine (Primary Instructor)
  • Wildlife Diseases (Guest Lecturer)

teaching statement

I try to challenge and inspire students not only with ideas and possibilities, but also with needs and role models. Students tend to know what needs to be done in the world. They are looking for mentors to help them do it. They need efficient ways to sort information and ways to prioritize their efforts to address the most urgent and the most important long-term needs, and to have an effective strategy to make a living as they go forward.

creative works

Creativity is in the eye of the beholder. My major creative outlet has been in identifying and helping capable young and older people to get together and organize their thoughts and careers and then to take chances trying to make things better for our short- and long-term future. I try to encourage people to act on their dreams in the world of today, and to work with what we have left in order to create a brighter future for biodiversity, terrestrial and aquatic wildlife, domestic animals, and our fellow human beings.

Envirovet Shortcourses and Summer Institutes (mentioned above)

  • Organized and helped teach the first five Envirovet shortcourses.  Drs. Tom Eurell, Mary Balcer, and Randall Hicks played pivotal roles in helping organize and host these courses.  They were held over a period of four weeks in summers of the 1990s at the University of Wisconsin-Superior and University of Minnesota-Duluth and in the nearby environments around the western tip of Lake Superior.  Field studies focused on the Duluth harbor, the open lake, the Apostle Islands, and streams and estuaries of the region.  The major focus of instruction was on aquatic animal health, ecotoxicology, infectious diseases, and stewardship, including through diagnostics, astute environmental law and policy, engineering, ecosystem economics, and restoration programs.  Faculty were from the University of Illinois, the two universities mentioned above, many other universities of the US and Canada, nongovernmental and governmental conservation organizations, and governmental research organizations, especially the National Wildlife Health Center of the USGS in Madison, WI, and the US EPA's Great Lakes Toxicology and Ecology Division Laboratory in Duluth, MN.  
  • Organized and helped teach Envirovet Summer Institutes each year from 2000 to 2011.  The developed country terrestrial units (first two weeks) were hosted by White Oak Conservation Center on the Florida-Georgia border.  Drs. Kirsten Gilardi and Scott Citino played major leadership roles in these units.  Faculty of the University of Illinois, the One Health Institute and the School of Veterinary Medicine of the University of California-Davis, White Oak, other universities throughout the United States, and other leaders from zoos, conservation organizations, and governmental agencies provided the instruction to our students.  The developed country aquatic units (second two weeks) were hosted by Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute of Florida Atlantic University.  Drs. Gregory Bossart and Matt Allender helped lead these units.  Faculty were from Harbor Branch, the University of Illinois, many other universities of the US and Canada, and a wide variety of nongovernmental organizations and government agencies.  The developing country units (final three weeks) took place in a developing country.  From 2000 to 2002 they were hosted in Kenya with leadership from Drs. Jim Else and George Owiti; in 2003 the host nation was Brazil and leaders included Dr. Charles Munn and Gonzalo Barquero; from 2004 to 2007 they took place in South Africa, and leaders included Drs. Jan Myburgh and Cobus Raath; and from 2008 to 2010 they were in Tanzania with major leadership by Drs. Deana Clifford and Rudovick Kazwala.  Host nation faculties of veterinary science and medicine, scientists from local and national governments, and local to global nongovernmental organizations played essential roles in the instruction.  Insights into the final Envirovet Summer Institute, its faculty members, and some of the students from various classes (not updated) is accessible at:   

A One Health Talk from 2011:   Shining Light at the End of the Tunnel of Emerging Diseases & the Sixth Extinction (Presentation at the University of Wisconsin in April, 2011):

Interviews and Presentations at the One Health, One Planet Symposia of the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, PA

Harmful Algal Blooms and Dogs, a Presentation for the Regional Science Consortium (of Northwestern Pennsylvania)

  • The talk, targeting veterinary practitioners was delivered in August 2019, in Erie, PA.
  • Its content was relevant to not only dogs, but also other species of vertebrates.

selected publications

  • Beasley V, Carmichael W, Haschek WM, Colegrove KM, Solter P.  Phycotoxins.  In Haschek WM, Rousseaux CG, Wallig MA (eds).  Handbook of Toxicologic Pathology, ed 4 (Volume 4), In press, 2023.
  • Totoni S, Fabisiak JP, Beasley VR, Arnemo JM, Schultz JH, Terry MA, and Peterson J.  Biting the bullet:  A call for action on lead-contaminated meat in food banks.  American Journal of Public Health 112:S651-S654, 2022.
  • Beasley VR, Direct and Indirect Effects of Environmental Contaminants on Amphibians, Reference Module in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences, Elsevier, 2020.
  • Beasley VR, Harmful Algal Blooms (Phycotoxins), Reference Module in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences, Elsevier, 2020. 
  • Aguirre AA, Basu N, Kahn LH, Morin XK, Echaubard P, Wilcox BA, and Beasley VR,  Transdisciplinary and social-ecological health frameworks—Novel approaches to emerging parasitic and vector-borne diseases.  Parasite Epidemiology and Control 4, February 2019, e00084, open access.
  • Aguirre AA, Beasley VR, Augspurger T, Benson WH, Whaley J, and Basu N. One Health—transdisciplinary opportunities for SETAC leadership in integrating and improving the health of people, animals and the environment. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 35:2383-2391, 2016.
  • Schwind JS, Gilardi KVK, Beasley VR, Mazet JAK, and Smith WA, Advancing the One Health workforce by integrating ecosystem health practice into veterinary medical education:  The Envirovet Summer Institute.  Health Education Journal 75:170-183, 2016.
  • Rohr JR, Civitello DJ, Crumrine PW, Halstead NT, Miller AD, Schotthoefer AM, Stenoien C, Johnson LB, and Beasley VR, Predator diversity, intraguild predation, and indirect effects drive parasite transmission.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 112:3008-3013, 2015.
  • Uchtmann N, Herrmann J, Hahn N, and Beasley VR,  Barriers to, efforts in, and optimization of integrated One Health surveillance:  a review and synthesis.  EcoHealth 12:368-384, 2015.

  • Hilborn ED, and Beasley VR, One Health and cyanobacteria in freshwater systems: animal illnesses and deaths as sentinel events for human health risk.  Toxins 7:1374-1395, 2015.
  • Mensching DA, Slater M, Scott JW, Ferguson DC, and Beasley VR, The feline thyroid gland:  a model for endocrine disruption by polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)?  Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health-Part A-Current Issues.  75:2-1-212, 2012. 
  • Schotthoefer AM, Rohr JR, Cole RA, Koehler AV, Johnson CM, Johnson LB, and Beasley VR, Effects of wetland vs. landscape variables on parasite communities of Rana pipiens:  links to anthropogenic factors.  Ecological Applications 21:1257-1271, 2011.
  • Hayes TB, Anderson LL, Beasley VR, deSolla SR, Iguchi T, Ingraham H, Kestemont P, Kniewald J, Kniewald Z, Langlois VS, Luque EH, McCoy KA, Munoz-de-Toro M, Oka T, Oliveira CA, Orton F, Ruby S, Suzawa M, Tavera-Mendoza LE, Trudeau VL, Victor-Costa AB, and Willingham E.  Demasculinization and feminization of male gonads by atrazine:  Consistent effects across vertebrate classes.  Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 127:64-73, 2011.
  • Beasley V, 'One Toxicology,’ ‘Ecosystem Health,’ and ‘One Health.’  Veterinaria Italiana 45:97-110, 2009.
  • Schotthoefer AM, Cole RA, and Beasley VR, Parasites of the mink frog (Rana septentrionalis) from Minnesota, USA. Comparative Parasitology 76:240-246, 2009.
  • Rohr JR, Schotthoefer AM, Raffel TR, Carrick HJ, Halstead N, Hoverman JT, Johnson CM, Johnson LB, Lieske C, Piwoni MD, Schoff PK, Beasley VR, Agrochemicals increase trematode infections in a declining amphibian species. Nature 455(7217):1235-9, 2008.
  • Schotthoefer AM, Labak KM, Beasley VR, Ribeiroia ondatrae cercariae are consumed by aquatic invertebrate predators. Journal of Parasitology; 93(5):1240-3, 2007.
  • Allender MC, Mitchell MA, Phillips CA, Gruszynski K, and Beasley VR, Hematology, plasma biochemistry, and antibodies to select viruses in wild-caught Eastern massasauga rattlesnakes (Sistrurus catenatus catenatus) from Illinois. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 42(1):107-14, 2006.
  • Beasley VR, Bruno SJ, Burner JS, Choi BW, Rinehart KL, Koritz GD, and Levengood JM, Fate of tritiated didemnin B in mice: excretion and tissue concentrations after an intraperitoneal dose. Biopharmaceutics Drug Disposition 26:341-351, 2005.
  • Reeder AL, Ruiz MO, Pessier A, Brown LE, Levengood JM, Phillips CA, Wheeler MB, Warner RE, and Beasley VR, Intersexuality and the Cricket Frog Decline: Historic and Geographic Trends. Environmental Health Perspectives 113:261-265, 2005.
  • Beasley VR, Faeh SA, Wikoff B, Eisold J, Nichols D, Cole R, Schotthoefer AM, Staehle C, Greenwell M, and Brown LE, Risk factors and the decline of the northern cricket frog, Acris crepitans: evidence for involvement of herbicides, parasitism, and habitat modifications. Amphibian Declines: The Conservation Status of United States Species. Lannoo, M. (Ed.) pp 75-86, 2005. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.
  • Schoff PK, Johnson CM, Schotthoefer AM, Murphy JE, Lieske C, Cole RA, Johnson LB, and Beasley VR, Prevalence of malformed frogs from the north-central United States: estimations based on collections from randomly selected sites. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 39:510-521, 2003.
  • Murphy JE, Beckmen KB, Johnson JK, Cope RB, Lawmaster T, and Beasley VR, Toxic and feeding deterrent effects of native aquatic macrophytes on exotic carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella).  Ecotoxicology 11:243-254, 2002.
  • Woshner VM, O’Hara TM, Eurell JA, Wallig MA, Bratton GR, Suydam RS, and Beasley VR, Distribution of inorganic mercury in liver and kidney of beluga and bowhead whales through autometallographic development of light microscopic tissue sections.  Toxicologic Pathology 30:209-215, 2002. 
  • Woshner VM, O'Hara TM, Bratton GR, Suydam RS, and Beasley VR, Concentrations and interactions of selected essential and non-essential elements in bowhead and beluga whales of arctic Alaska.  Journal of Wildlife Diseases 37:693-710, 2001.
  • Woshner VM, O'Hara TM, Bratton GR, and Beasley VR, Concentrations and interactions of selected essential and non-esssential elements in ringed seals and polars bears of arctic Alaska.  Journal of Wildlife Diseases 37:711-721, 2001.
  • Diana SG, Resetarits Jr WJ, Schaeffer DJ, Beckmen KB, and Beasley VR, Effects of atrazine on amphibian growth and survival in artificial aquatic communities.  Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 19:2961-2967, 2000.,etal2000.pdf
  • Beasley VR, Lovell RA, Holmes KR, Walcott HE, Schaeffer DJ, Hoffmann WE, and Carmichael WW, Microcystin-LR decreases hepatic and renal perfusion, and causes circulatory shock, severe hypoglycemia, and terminal hyperkalemia in intravascularly-dosed swine.  Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health A,61:281-303, 2000.
  • Reeder AL, Foley GL, Nichols DK, Hansen LG, Wikoff B, Faeh S, Eisold J, Wheeler MB, Warner R, Murphy JE, and Beasley VR, Forms and prevalence of intersexuality, and effects of environmental contaminants on sexuality in cricket frogs (Acris crepitans).  Environmental Health Perspectives 106:261-266, 1998.
  • Wickstrom MW, Haschek-Hock W, Henningsen G, Miller LA, and Beasley VR, Sequential ultrastructural and biochemical changes induced by microcystin-LR in isolated perfused rat livers. Natural Toxins 4:195-205, 1997.
  • Stotts RR, Twardock, AR, Koritz GD, Haschek-Hock WM, Manuel RK, Hollis WH, and Beasley VR,  Toxicokinetics of tritiated dihydromicrocystin-LR in swine. Toxicon 35:455-465, 1997.
  • Stotts RR, Twardock AR, Beasley VR, Haschek-Hock WM, Choi BW, Rinehart KL, Distribution of tritiated dihydromicrocystin-LR in swine. Toxicon 35:937-953, 1997.
  • Khan SA, Wickstrom ML, Haschek WM, Schaeffer DJ, Ghosh S, Beasley VR,  Microcystin-LR and kinetics of cytoskeletal reorganization in hepatocytes, kidney cells, and fibroblasts.  Natural Toxins 4:206-214, 1996.
  • Wickstrom ML, Khan SA, Haschek WM, Wyman JF, Eriksson JE, Schaeffer DJ, Beasley VR.  Alterations in microtubules, intermediate filaments, and microfilaments induced by microcystin-LR in cultured cells.  Toxicologic Pathology 23:326-337, 1995.
  • Beasley VR  Ecotoxicology and ecosystem health:  roles for veterinarians; goals of the Envirovet program. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 203:617-628, 1993.

professional affiliations

  • American Veterinary Medical Association
  • American Board of Veterinary Toxicology

professional certifications

Diplomate, American Board of Veterinary Toxicology

recent press

Quoted from interview regarding cyanobacterial toxins and poisonings of domestic dogs.  The text appeared in the August 12, 2019 edition of the New York Times.

The New York Times interview on cyanobacterial toxins and dogs above was also cited in newspapers of Chattanooga, Tennessee and Columbus, Ohio.

Quoted from an interview in WebMD regarding cyanobaceterial toxins and poisonings of dogs.  The text appeared in the August 14, 2019 edition of WebMD.

Quoted from an interview with Go Erie of Erie, Pennsylvania, regarding cyanobacterial toxins and poisonings of dogs.  The text appeared in the August 24, 2019 edition of Go Erie.

Quoted from an interview with National Public Radio regarding cyanobacterial toxins and poisonings of dogs.  The text appeared in the August 27, 2019 edition of NPR Illinois.

Quoted from interview regarding cyanobacterial toxins.  The text appeared in the April 15, 2018 edition of the Journal of the AVMA, which focused on environment as the bedrock of One Health.

Quoted in an interview regarding the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the American Board of Veterinary Toxicology.  The text appeared in the June 28, 2017 edition of the Journal of the AVMA.

Radio Interview

Interviewed on the topic, “Cyanobacterial (Blue-Green Algal) Toxins:  Risk Factors and Impacts on Dogs.”  Radio station WBUR and National Public Radio (NPR), Here & Now with Robin Young, on August 27, 2019.