Veterinary Student Research Fellowships
to Address Global Challenges in Food and Agriculture

BACKGROUND

Animal proteins are critical to food security and nutrition, yet population growth, climate change, emerging infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance present significant challenges to sustainable livestock production globally.

Veterinarians trained in multi-species medicine, animal science and public health are key to addressing these challenges.

However, despite the growing need, few funding opportunities exist for veterinary students to gain experience in these research areas.

FFAR, with the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, offers a summer fellowship program for veterinary students called the FFAR Vet Fellows.

These fellowships allow veterinary students to pursue research at the intersection of global food security and sustainable animal production. The Vet Fellows gain important experience with cutting-edge scientific techniques while working with a qualified mentor.

Vet Fellows may work internationally, at an academic institution or with private-sector partners. The FFAR Vet Fellows program prepares future veterinarians for research and public service careers.

ELIGIBLE RESEARCH TOPICS INCLUDE:

Animal diseases


Sustainable intensification


Gene-editing/precision breeding

Socioeconomics, spatial analysis and computational modeling

Advanced technologies


Epidemiology


This program does not support biomedical research or comparative medicine without a clear connection to issues in food and agriculture.

RFD-TV Interview with Tim Kurt

PROGRAM STRUCTURE

The 2020 nomination period is now open.
The program is accepting nominations until May 6, 2020 at 5pm EST.

Matching funds are not required for the 2020 fellowship.

Research on zoonotic diseases of agriculture and supply chain logistics will be considered eligible.

Stipend support of $4,000 per student is provided for up to 10 students per year (limit one student per institution) to perform research with a qualified mentor.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Veterinary Scholars Symposium, including the Vet Fellow presentations, will take place virtually.

The program is open to students currently enrolled in a DVM or VMD degree program, including those in combined degree programs.

Prior research experience is not necessary to apply.

More information about this program is included in the program description.
Download Program Description
All applications must be submitted via SM Apply.


KEY DATES


Nomination period open: February 26, 2020 at 12 pm EST
Nomination period closes: May 6, 2020 at 5 pm EST
Full proposal invitation and full applications: May 27, 2020
Applicants notified: June 2020

2020 VETERINARY STUDENT RESEARCH FELLOWS

Alec Lucas

Alec Lucas

Mississippi State University

As policies and regulations on antimicrobial use become more restrictive, the cattle industry – including producers, veterinarians and industry representatives – must together prepare to implement these policies and regulations. Lucas is using stock and flow value-chain models to understand how cattle markets would adapt to various antimicrobial-use policies.
Allie Andrews

Allie Andrews

University of Tennessee

Bovine anaplasmosis, an infectious blood disease in cattle usually spread by ticks, causes severe anemia and significant economic losses for producers; however, no recent prevalence estimates exist, making it impossible to account for exact production losses. Andrews is tracking the prevalence of bovine anaplasmosis in Tennessee beef cattle herds, which helps producers understand the economic impacts of the disease and adopt better preventative and control measures.
Cassandra Barber

Cassandra Barber

Mississippi State University

Not only are zoonotic diseases a significant threat to humans, but in some cases these microorganisms can also be resistant to antimicrobials. Alternative treatments for antimicrobial-resistant zoonotic microorganisms are needed to protect human and animal health. Increased expression of naturally occurring antimicrobial proteins (AMP) by an animal’s cells could be a novel strategy for treating some infections. Barber is using bovine coronavirus and Pasteurella bacteria as models for viral and bacterial zoonotic pathogens to investigate whether AMPs may be effective in combating infectious agents in humans and animals.
Dayna Kinkade

Dayna Kinkade

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Researchers hypothesize that the influenza A viruses (IAV), also known as the flu, can be transmitted between species, including between humans and pigs. Kinkade is examining the transmission of influenza A subtype H3N2 virus, a strain of the flu, between humans and pigs from 2014 to 2019. These genetic-analysis tools can determine which strains of the virus are spreading between species and if this transmission is occurring in any specific pattern, information necessary to better monitor the movement and evolution of the influenza virus.
Eddy Cruz

Eddy Cruz

University of Wisconsin

The intestinal pathogen Salmonella enterica causes disease in many animal species, including humans, but it is unclear how the gut environment primes Salmonella for transmission. The gut microbiota of mammals produces a diversity of sulfur-containing metabolites, some of which enhance Salmonella infection, survival or severity. Cruz is assessing the effect of these sulfur metabolites on Salmonella gut colonization and environmental survival to provide key targets for anti-Salmonella strategies based on sulfur metabolites.
Faazal Rehman

Faazal Rehman

University of Pennsylvania

Swine health and illness significantly impacts productivity and economic losses worldwide. Rehman is identifying a swine health signature in Pennsylvania swine farms by studying the gut, lung and skin microbiomes, as well as characterizing white blood cell populations of healthy and sick animals. Identifying a swine health signature will improve global animal health and productivity.
Kenzie Schwartz

Kenzie Schwartz

University of Georgia

The east Asian longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis) carries several pathogens that are harmful to cattle. Schwartz is determining the diversity and abundance of the east Asian longhorned tick and other ticks in urban and forested parks in Athens, Georgia. Schwartz is also examining whether species abundance or diversity are related to any spatial associations or habitat connectivity.
Lauren Herd

Lauren Herd

Kansas State University

Decades of use in the cattle industry may have impacted the efficacy of the only FDA-approved drug, chlortetracycline (CTC), to control bovine anaplasmosis, Anaplasma marginale. Bovine anaplasmosis is an infectious blood disease in cattle that causes severe anemia and economic losses for producers. To evaluate the efficacy of CTC, Herd is infecting cattle with a strain of A. marginale, treating some cattle with CTC, and monitoring for signs of the disease to better understand antimicrobial resistance.
Maia Laabs

Maia Laabs

University of California, Davis

Toxoplasma gondii is widespread parasite that causes reproductive challenges in small ruminants. Laabs is investigating the prevalence of T. gondii in US goat herds and identifying risk factors associated with T. gondii-positive herds. Her research is informing management strategies and future preventive measures.
Matt Boulanger

Matt Boulanger

University of Pennsylvania

Lameness is a major detriment to sow productivity and welfare; however, lameness scoring can be subjective and needs to be done manually. Boulanger’s research is using infrared cameras to automatically evaluate lameness in swine. He is using a novel algorithm, as well as machine learning, to process the images and comparing the predictions to standard visual assessment tools.
Sarah Botkin

Sarah Botkin

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Rotavirus is a small intestinal disease that is infecting piglet in increasing frequency in commercial swine breeding herds. Conventional control methods of vaccination and high-pressure washing with disinfectants have been ineffective. Botkin is evaluating the effectiveness of conventional and alternative cleaning methods to reduce the incidence of diarrhea in neonatal pigs.
Xinyi Xu

Xinyi Xu

University of Georgia

As environmental change brings wild and domestic animals in increasingly close contact, disease transmission between wildlife and livestock is an emerging threat to food production. Xiu is studying critical factors related to how the virus interacts with the host to predict viral spillover between wildlife and livestock.

INITIAL VETERINARY STUDENT RESEARCH FELLOWS

Laura Raines

Laura Raines

Auburn University

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Paul H. Walz
Bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) is an infectious viral disease in cattle that negatively impacts reproductive performance and causes high mortality in calves. Raines is examining prenatal testing methods to identify pregnant cattle that carry the virus and control the incidence of persistently infected calves that are responsible for further disease spread.
Lauren Riggs

Lauren Riggs

Colorado State University

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Christie Mayo
Bluetongue virus and epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus are both transmitted by insects and infect ruminant animals, mammals such as cows that absorb nutrients through plant-based food and have complicated stomach systems. Riggs is examining two strains of a similar virus to determine how simultaneous infections affects their evolution and replication rate. This research will inform our current understanding of insect-borne diseases in ruminants.
Sarah Krueger

Sarah Krueger

Kansas State University

Faculty mentor: Dr. Kathryn Reif
Anaplasmosis is the most prevalent tick-transmitted disease in cattle worldwide. In the United States, the Lone Star tick (LST) has rapidly expanded its range due to climate change, ecosystem changes and increased animal movement, making it the most common tick found on cattle. Krueger is examining whether LST contributes to the spread and development of anaplasmosis, which could inform disease management and treatment strategies.
Macon Overcast

Macon Overcast

Ohio State University

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Rebecca Garabed
Livestock and wildlife, land-use patterns and other factors influence the development and spread of antibiotic resistance in agricultural environments. Overcast is using computer models to better understand how to mitigate this public health threat.
Cara A. Newberry

Cara A. Newberry

University of California Davis

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Woutrina Smith
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) can cause life-threating infections in humans and livestock. Newberry’s research in Iringa, Tanzania is assessing the prevalence of antimicrobial resistant E. coli in local chickens and evaluating risk factors that could influence transmission to humans.
Roel Becerra

Roel Becerra

University of Georgia

Faculty Mentors: Nicolle Barbieri and Catherine Logue
Early diagnosis of infectious diseases in food-producing animals is key to preventing them from spreading. Conventional methods require expensive equipment, expertise in preparing specialized samples and an extended amount of time to generate results. Using existing specialized technology, Becerra will develop tools that accurately and efficiently diagnose diseases like Avian Pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC) and Salmonella spp in food-producing animals.
Shelby Nichole Crump

Shelby Nichole Crump

University of Illinois

Dr. Fabio Soares de Lima
Infertility or limited fertility jeopardizes the efficiency and longevity of dairy cows. Crump is examining several pregnancy-signaling pathways in cows, research that improves reproductive performance.
Preston A. Cernek

Preston A. Cernek

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Dörte Döpfer
Digital Dermatitis (DD) affects about 90 percent of US dairy herds and is associated with decreased milk production, lameness and infertility. Early detection and prompt treatment offer better prognosis but early detection of DD on commercial dairy farms is difficult. Cernek is using computer vision technology to create a digital tool for early DD detection on commercial dairy farms.
Hayley Masterson

Hayley Masterson

Washington State University

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Massaro Ueti
Masterson is traveling to Mexico to collect geographically distinct microorganisms of Babesia bovis, a tick-borne parasite that infects cattle in tropical regions and causes significant economic losses for farmers. Masterson’s research is identifying proteins common to different microorganisms that may be used for vaccine development.
Melody Koo

Melody Koo

Western University of Health Sciences

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Pedro Diniz
Piroplasmosis is a blood-borne disease that affects a wide range of wild and domestic animals, primarily in Africa and Europe. Current tests are not effective for detecting carrier animals and cannot easily distinguish the different strains that may or may not be harmful. Koo’s research uses next-generation genetic sequencing (NGS) technology to discriminate between Piroplasmosis species based on the specific DNA sequence detected.
Overcoming Water Scarcity

Overcoming Water Scarcity

Continue

Agriculture uses 70 percent of the world’s accessible freshwater. FFAR’s 2016-2018 Overcoming Water Scarcity Challenge Area addressed water use efficiency in agriculture by developing water conservation and reuse technologies, improving crop and livestock breeds, creating improved agronomic practices, increasing the social and economic tractability of conservation practices and enhancing the efficacy of Extension services.

FFAR’s Sustainable Water Management Challenge Area builds on earlier work to increase water availability and water efficiency for agricultural use, reduces agricultural water pollution and develops water reuse technologies.

Healthy Soils, Thriving Farms

Healthy Soils, Thriving Farms

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FFAR’s 2016-2018 Healthy Soils, Thriving Farms Challenge Area increased soil health by building knowledge, fueling innovation, and enabling adoption of existing or new innovative practices that improve soil health.

The Soil Health Challenge Area advances existing research and identifies linkages between farm productivity and soil health, while also addressing barriers to the adoption of soil health practices.

Protein Challenge

Protein Challenge

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FFAR’s 2016-2018 Protein Challenge Area sought to improve the environmental, economic and social sustainability of diverse proteins.

The Advance Animal Systems challenge area supports sustainable animal production through environmentally sound productions practices and advancement in animal health and welfare. Additionally, the Next Generation Crops Challenge Area develops non-traditional crops, including plant-based proteins, and creates new economic opportunities for conventional crops to increase future crop diversity and farm profitability.

Food Waste and Loss

Food Waste and Loss

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About 40 percent of food in the US, or $161 billion each year, is lost or wasted. FFAR’s 2016-2018 Food and Waste Loss Challenge Area addressed the social, economic and environmental impacts from food waste and loss through research that developed of novel uses for agricultural waste, improved storage and distribution, supported tracking and monitoring, minimized spoilage through pre- and post-harvest innovations and changed behaviors to reduce food waste

FFAR’s current Health-Agriculture Nexus Challenge Area addresses food waste and loss and supports innovative, systems-level approaches to reduce food and nutritional insecurity and improve human health in the US and globally.

Forging the Innovation Pathway to Sustainability

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Supporting innovation is necessary for sustainable results. Over the last 50 years, farmers have tripled global food production thanks to agricultural innovations. Forging the Innovation Pathway to Sustainability was a 2016-2018 Challenge Area that focused on understanding the barriers and processes that prevented the adoption of technology and research results into sustainable practices.

Urban Food Systems

Urban Food Systems

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The 2016-2018 Urban Food Systems Challenge Area addressed feeding urban populations through urban and peri-urban agriculture and augmenting the capabilities of our current food system.

The Urban Food Systems Challenge Area continues this work and enhances our ability to feed urban populations.

Making My Plate Your Plate

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FFAR’s 2016-2018 Making My Plate Your Plate Challenge Area focused on helping Americans meet the USDA 2015 Dietary Guideline recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption, including research to both produce and provide access to nutritious fruits and vegetables.

FFAR’s current Health-Agriculture Nexus Challenge Area supports innovative, systems-level approaches to reduce food and nutritional insecurity and improve human health in the US and globally.