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Common Health

October 10, 2022
photo of a woman
Kerry Sondgeroth, the Riverbend Ranch Endowed Chair in Wildlife-Livestock Health. (Photo by Austin Jackson)

A UW endowed chair is helping to protect the wellness of Wyoming.


By Sunnie Lew 

Endowed professorships such as the one held by Riverbend Ranch Chair Kerry Sondgeroth shape the future.

From pronghorn, to bison, to coughing dogs, Dr. Kerry Sondgeroth is uncovering what makes animals sick and protecting the health of Wyoming’s wildlife and its livestock.

Sondgeroth, an associate professor and board-certified veterinary bacteriologist at the University of Wyoming’s Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory, was appointed to the Riverbend Ranch Endowed Chair in Wildlife-Livestock Health in 2020. Her work has had a great impact on not only the animals she studies, but also the people of Wyoming.

“We’re all working toward the common goal of better health for all animals,” says Sondgeroth. “We’ve been making an effort to bring people together across the university, the state and the country.”

Endowed positions are critical to the success of the university. Their impact is far-reaching and creates a legacy of excellence that is significant to the state. Gifts made to UW for the endowment of deanships, chairs, professorships and fellowships are valued incentives used in the recruitment and retention of world-class faculty.

Sondgeroth’s endowed position was made possible by Tim Mellon, who donated the Riverbend Ranch west of Laramie to the UW Foundation in 2011, with proceeds of its eventual sale earmarked to establish the Riverbend Ranch Endowed Chair.

“Endowed faculty positions are the difference between a good university and a great university,” says UW Provost and Executive Vice President Kevin Carman. “They allow UW to attract and retain outstanding faculty who are international leaders in their disciplines. As exemplified by Dr. Sondgeroth, the Riverbend Ranch Chair has allowed us to attract a leading scholar in infectious disease who is addressing issues that are important to both the wildlife and citizens of Wyoming.”

Sondgeroth is a remarkable example of how chair holders help shape the future of the state. Her department has been accomplishing things that no other university has done before. Under her leadership, UW has been making a name for itself for work in understanding the diseases that affect Wyoming’s animals.

“The endowment (that funds the Riverbend Ranch Endowed Chair in Wildlife-Livestock Health) has given our students skills that they get to carry with them into their own careers,” Sondgeroth says. “It has provided them travel opportunities, fieldwork and the importance of communicating with stakeholders. Training the next generation of scientists, who are passionate about science, is one of the most impactful things we can do. So, the endowment is key to the future success of our university and state.”

If you are interested in supporting the work and research of Sondgeroth and other UW distinguished faculty, contact the UW Foundation by emailing, or calling 307-766-6300.

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