Featured Faculty: Bert Stromberg
Bert Stromberg: a legacy of teaching, research, and service
Dr. Bert Stromberg, a longtime professor of parasitology in the Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences Department, will retire on June 30 after 35 years of teaching, research, and service.
Born in Trenton, New Jersey, Bert earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, and his master’s degree in zoology from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Mass. He was planning to go to medical school at the University of Pennsylvania until a professor of parasitology changed his mind. E.J.L. Soulsby, a British microbiologist and parasitologist who is now a member of the House of Lords in the United Kingdom, made parasitology fascinating. Bert decided to go to graduate school and pursue his Ph.D.
He earned his Ph.D. in parasitology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1973 and became an assistant professor in the Laboratory of Parasitology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, where he worked for five years. In 1979, when Dr. Ben Pomeroy was acting dean of the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, he hired Bert as an associate professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology.
Bert admits that he and his wife initially had some reservations about moving to Minnesota, but they discovered that it was a “fantastic place to raise kids.” He and JoAnn raised two children, a boy and a girl, who have also chosen to remain in the area and raise their own kids; the Strombergs now have four grandchildren.
Bert became a full professor in 1986, and in 1989 was named acting chair of the Department of Veterinary PathoBiology (now the Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences Department). From 1985 to 2000, he was an adjunct professor with the Institut Agronomique et Veterinaire Hassan II in Rabat, Morocco as part of a United States Agency for International Development program, serving as a mentor to students from Morocco who came to the college to study. Bert, in turn, traveled to Morocco for about two weeks at a time to teach and conduct research.
In 1990, he was appointed director of graduate studies for the veterinary pathobiology graduate program, and in 2000, he was named associate dean for research and graduate programs and co-director of the Clinical Investigation Center. His other positions have included assistant director of the Agricultural Experiment Station from 2002-2007, co-director of international programs from 2000-2011, director of the Summer Scholars program from 2001-2011, and faculty adviser of the parasitology section of the Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory since 2006.
Bert has been an advisor to six graduate students, one of whom is now at the National Institutes of Health, while others went on to become faculty members at veterinary colleges and medical schools around the world.
His research has recently dealt with the epidemiology of ruminant parasites, specifically the development of resistance to antiparasitic compounds, an area in which he has published extensively. He has consulted for most of the major animal health companies and held leadership roles in professional organizations. These included serving as president of the American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists as well as the Conference of Research Workers in Animal Disease. He was recently elected an honorary diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Microbiologists.
Of all of his accomplishments at the college, Bert is especially proud of his legacy of teaching parasitology; his work with the research program, particularly the Clinical Investigation Center, which he directed from 2000-2006 and co-directed from 2006-2010; and of starting the college’s Summer Scholars program. Now in its 13th year, the program offers first- and second-year veterinary students the opportunity to participate in research projects related to veterinary, animal, and human health initiatives.
After some 40 years as a parasitologist, Bert concludes that the parasites have remained the same, but ways of killing them have changed. The wonder drug of one decade may be replaced by the miracle drug of the next, and scientists are starting to see resistance to parasitic agents, especially in sheep.
Bert doesn’t aim to retire completely. He plans to maintain his ties with the university as a professor emeritus and continue to conduct research, only with less of a time commitment. He looks forward to having more free time to pursue his interest in genealogy and to do more recreational reading, travel, and possible volunteer work. He plans to continue living in Minnesota – that “fantastic place to raise kids” that he discovered 35 years ago – because his kids have now made their home here, too.
- Sue Kirchoff