Andrea Varela-Stokes, V01, with her dog, Stella.
After graduating more than 20 years ago, Andrea Varela-Stokes, V01, has long-believed that her career path would lead her back to Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. She was right.
On March 1, after two decades of research and teaching, Varela-Stokes was appointed professor and chair of the Department of Comparative Pathobiology (CPB) at Cummings School.
“As a graduate of the veterinary program, I remembered loving the area and school and had always envisioned returning to Cummings School in some capacity,” Varela-Stokes shares. “While not a New Englander, I’m from the Northeast, so the chance to be closer to family, have our son in an excellent school system, and enjoy the area’s history were also substantial factors.”
A veterinary scientist, Varela-Stokes started researching parasitology while earning a BS in animal science from Rutgers University. After securing a DVM from Cummings School, she spent six years as a veterinary graduate assistant and assistant researcher in infectious diseases at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, where she earned a PhD in infectious diseases and worked with tick-borne pathogens and other tick-associated bacteria.
She then served the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine for nearly 15 years, and earned promotions from assistant, to associate, then full professor during her tenure in the Department of Comparative Biomedical Sciences. Varela-Stokes significantly grew her research program with co-investigator and spouse, John Stokes, who also has a graduate degree in infectious diseases and is a certified cytometrist through the American Society for Clinical Pathology. The Varela-Stokes lab has secured grants from various sources, including the National Institutes of Health, to fund their research.
Cummings School Dean Alastair Cribb deeply appreciates Varela-Stokes’ experience and expertise. “Dr. Varela-Stokes brings an excellent perspective to the Department of Comparative Pathobiology,” he says. “As a Cummings School graduate, she understands our culture and student life. However, she comes back with a wealth of external leadership experience from her years at Mississippi State University that gives her the necessary perspective to advance the department.”
Varela-Stokes has published and presented widely on parasitology and has earned several awards, including the Pfizer Award for Veterinary Research Excellence, and faculty excellence honors at Mississippi State. She has also earned several certifications, such as a recent institutional vet licensure from the Massachusetts Board of Registration, and certificates in online instruction and teaching from Mississippi State.
In her new role, Varela-Stokes is eager to help develop and grow the department’s capabilities. “For me, this provides an opportunity to give back to a school that had a significant impact on my career path,” she says.
“My goal is to identify new opportunities for CPB to use its areas of expertise to grow our diagnostic capabilities, foster natural collaborations for scholarly activity, and support our members in their efforts to teach effectively while promoting a positive culture where we work together for continued success.”