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Silke Hecht

Hecht working at an MRI machine.

Silke Hecht is a professor of radiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

“In radiology, we see all animals,” she said. “I spend half of my time in clinics looking at radiographs and doing ultrasounds and the other half teaching and conducting research.”

Hecht was born in Rhineland in western Germany, in a very small town close to the border with the Netherlands. She attended veterinary college at the University of Munich. After living in Munich for 10 years, she moved to the United States and completed her residency at Tufts University in Boston. She came to UT in 2005. 

Why veterinary medicine

“Everyone goes into veterinary medicine because of their love of animals,” she said. “I did my thesis on radiology and began to explore different options in radiology and imaging.”

She finds the field fascinating.

“We regularly perform imaging procedures on large cats such as tigers and lions, birds from hummingbirds to great blue herons and others, including puffer fish, snapping turtles, and even a sloth, and those are very rewarding.”

Also, she said, “any time we have a really challenging case with multiple clinicians involved and we manage to come up with the correct diagnosis, it is rewarding.” 

Hecht, age 20, with her brother during her vet school years in Europe.

Advice to her college-age self

“I wish I would have taken more time for myself. I never took a day off during school. I was always studying. I wish I had set aside time to explore Europe while I still lived there.”

Outside interests

“I love to cook,” she said. “My husband, Bill, and I, we love food—either cooking or going out to eat.”

She said they enjoy exploring the Knoxville food and brewery scene.

“My favorite cuisine to cook and eat is Italian food,” she said, adding that it’s one reason she’s really looking forward to traveling to Bologna, Italy, this summer to speak at a conference.

Along with hiking, Hecht also loves water sports, particularly, kayaking.


She has two cats, Eric Idle and John Cleese, and a German shepherd named Guenter.

Hecht and her husband also enjoy bird watching in their backyard. “We have a ton of bird feeders set up outside, so I have gotten into birding. Even though I sort of consider the birds as my pets, they remain unnamed.”


“My all-time favorite movie is The Blues Brothers.”

Still on her bucket list

More travel. I’ve never been to Australia; I’ve only been to Asia once and I would like to go back.”

Most people don’t know

“I have a huge issue with litter. Every time I go for a walk or hike I take a couple of trash bags with me and pick up whatever is lying around. I have yet to see a landscape that is improved by the addition of empty beer cans or plastic wrappers.”

Hecht teaching.

To unwind from the day

“I try to go on a greenway walk before I leave for home.” Hecht said a 20-minute walk helps her unwind from the day.

If she didn’t do this

“I would be in the culinary industry somehow. The more I got into cooking, the more I thought about it as a career path.”