Service Awards for UF Superstars!

The University of Florida becomes like a second home for so many of us who work here that the start of our careers often leads to many faithful years of service through many changes and different developments. Please congratulate and celebrate: 

Kelly Kirkendall-Merritt, Senior Biological Scientist from our own LACS for 35 years of service

Wendy Davies in Integrative Medicine for 25 years of service 

Carolyn Whitford in Physiological Sciences for 30 years of service 

Lynn Varner, UFVH, for 30 years of service

Ms. Kirkendall-Merritt began her academic career at University of Florida in 1979, where she earned her B.A. in Food Science and Human Nutrition with an emphasis in microbiology. In 1988, she began working in the research lab of LACS Emeritus Professor Dr. Murray Brown, one of UF’s Large Animal surgeons. When Ms. Kirkendall-Merritt was hired, the only building was the original veterinary hospital. During the course of her thirty-five-year career in LACS, UF’s College of Veterinary Medicine has built the new large animal hospital, the veterinary academic building, and the small animal hospital.

Ms. Kirkendall-Merritt fondly recalls her early career at UF. She has stated, “I learned a lot working with large animals and horses… all aspects of veterinary medicine.” Dr. Brown and Ms. Kirkendell-Merritt worked together as a team until Dr. Brown’s retirement in 2014. “We were very close – like family,” Ms. Kirkendall-Meritt has stated. To this day, the two remain friends.

Much like her relationship with Dr. Brown, Ms. Kirkendall-Merritt has had many opportunities to mentor others at UF and continues to celebrate her students’ achievements after they have graduated. She knew her student, Ms. Tonya Clauss, from the time that she was in high school and watched Ms. Clauss earn her preliminary university degrees before starting classes at UF’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Ms. Clauss worked for Ms. Kirkendall-Meritt in the lab just as Ms. Kirkendall-Merritt worked for Dr. Brown. The two remained in close contact even as Ms. Clauss went on after graduation to become the Vice President of Animal and Environmental Health at Georgia Aquarium.

Ms. Kirkendall-Merritt has greatly appreciated the opportunity to work with her colleagues, with her students, and with equine patients in LACS. She has stated, “I enjoy the field, I enjoy working with faculty and helping the team in any way I can, and I enjoy working with the animals… I enjoy teaching, too. It has been satisfying to have students I’ve watched go on to be veterinarians and in different fields.”

Likewise, the University of Florida’s LACS team is very glad to have Ms. Kirkendall-Merritt as a loyal, supportive team member for the past 35 years.