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.

PROGRAM STRUCTURE

The program is open annually.
The application period has closed for 2019 and will reopen in Spring 2020.

Stipend support of 4,000 per student is provided for up to 10 students per year to perform research with a qualified mentor.

The fellowship culminates with student presentations at the annual National Veterinary Scholars Symposium

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

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.