Alt= “Person in white lab coat taking notes on a clipboardstanding among young pigs in a building” Alt= “Person in white lab coat taking notes on a clipboardstanding among young pigs in a building”

FFAR Awards Fourth Cohort of Vet Fellows

Washington, D.C.

  • Advanced Animal Systems

Today the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) and the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) announced 13 recipients of the 2022 Veterinary Student Research Fellowships (FFAR Vet Fellows). This unique fellowship creates opportunities for veterinary students around the world to conduct research to advance global food security, sustainable animal production and environmental sustainability.

Veterinarians trained in animal science and public health are key to addressing many global challenges within the veterinary and agricultural fields. The FFAR Vet Fellows program enables veterinary students to pursue research outside of the biomedical sciences and gain experiential learning opportunities with a qualified mentor. This fellowship culminates with student presentations at the annual Veterinary Scholars Symposium

FFAR is thrilled to support the fourth cohort of FFAR Vet Fellows in partnership with AAVMC. This pioneering fellowship allows future veterinarians to sharpen their research skills to solve current and emerging food and agriculture challenges. We are excited about the variety of student research topics and the potential positive impacts on animal health and student career development. Tim Kurt, DVM
Scientific Program Director, October 2016- September 2022
Advanced Animal Systems

The 2022 FFAR Vet Fellows include:

Dannell Kopp
Kansas State University
Earlier administration of antimicrobial treatments for respiratory diseases in feeder cattle can improve recovery with fewer long-term effects. Kopp is developing a predictive model with new applications for data-assisted decision making in beef cattle production. This model will allow beef producers to administer antibiotic treatment more effectively, leading to improved animal health and antimicrobial stewardship.

Lizeth Lopez
Iowa State University
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when bacteria adapt over time and no longer respond to the antibiotics designed to prevent illness. Lopez is assessing the AMR threat in retail raw meat sold at Iowa grocery stores. Increased surveillance activities will provide critical information on AMR in the food chain, which informs developing and implementing mitigation strategies at the local and national levels.

Heather Peterson
Iowa State University
Peterson is conducting a clinical efficacy study for treating respiratory disease in goats. Specifically, Peterson is screening goats for the presence of antimicrobial resistant Enterobacterales and Campylobacter species in fecal samples and monitoring the continued presence of these organisms over time. This study will assess the current state of antimicrobial resistance for important pathogens regularly found in livestock gastrointestinal tracts that threaten human health.

Macy Rasmussen
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Rasmussen is developing classifier tools for Salmonella spp. using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), an analytical technique used to obtain an infrared spectrum from a substance. When analyzing bacteria with FT-IR, a unique spectrum is generated that corresponds to the cells’ outer membrane molecules, which will be used to generate models that may detect antimicrobial resistance.

Melissa Rodriguez
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Infectious diseases that can pass from swine to humans may be detectable in wastewater from hog farms. Rodriguez is using a rapid, low-cost tool to detect infectious disease in swine to validate packing plant wastewater sampling as a method of surveillance for swine diseases. This rapid method will allow veterinarians and farmers to improve production and herd management decisions.

Dazjah Samuels
Ross University of Veterinary Medicine
A quarter of bat species are facing extinction, and researchers are unsure of the cause. Samuels is analyzing the hair of two species of bats to determine if they are absorbing contaminants like pesticides commonly found within their environment. In addition to improving bat populations, Samuels’ research may also yield insight into zoonotic diseases that are commonly thought to originate in bats.

Nicole Sterzinger
Iowa State University
Bacterial pathogens in the Pasteurellacae family can cause serious and contagious respiratory illnesses in many animals. Sterzinger is screening goats for the presence of Pasteurellacaepathogens as part of a large clinical efficacy study on treating respiratory disease. Sterzinger will then perform antimicrobial susceptibility testing to evaluate antimicrobial resistance in these opportunistic pathogens.

Wei Man Weng
Long Island University
Bacterial biofilms are communities of bacteria that form during chronic infection. Biofilms formed during bovine respiratory disease inhibit antibiotic effectiveness, increasing antibiotic resistance and requiring larger antibiotic doses. Weng is identifying safe, non-toxic bioactive compounds that can dissolve an established biofilm. This research will demonstrate if antimicrobials are significantly more effective when combined with an effective anti-biofilm compound.

Kailey Wichman
University of Madison-Wisconsin

Wichman is using in-vitro assays, a technique to analyze a substance’s composition or quality, to determine drug resistance in ruminant parasites. Wichman will connect her research results with the genetic analysis of Haemonchus contortus to verify there is a genetic cause for the resistance.

Heleen de Wit
Utrecht University
During the dairy cow’s lactation cycle, there is a dry period when the cow and her udders prepare for the next lactation. In the dry period, any abnormality like endometriosis, a common chronic infection of the uterus, can affect the cow’s health and milk production after calving. De Wit is examining the effects of different types of outdoor access, including pasture and alternative outdoor areas, on the incidence of transition diseases like endometritis in dairy cows.

Theresa Wong
Western University of Health Sciences
Necrotic enteritis in chickens is a disease attributed to C. perfringens, a bacteria found in soil, dust, feces, feed and poultry litter. Toxins produced by the bacteria damage chickens’ intestines and often result in crippling disease. To curtail this threat, Wong is conducting a study to demonstrate whether the accumulation of bovine lactoferrin, an inhibitor of C. perfringens growth, in thesmall intestines of affected chickens is a potential alternative to antibiotics.

Jared Young
University of Minnesota
Young is creating a microbial genome database from publicly available swine and cattle respiratory samples to be used as a reference by other researchers who are performing swine and cattle respiratory studies. As the database grows, analysis of the data could provide new information about the cause and risk factors for respiratory disease in these species.

Madeline Zutz
University of Madison-Wisconsin
Timed artificial insemination of dairy heifers is a common tool used to optimize synchrony of their reproductive cycle, thereby enhancing the likelihood and efficiency of attaining pregnancies. Farmers currently use costly, labor-intensive hormone-infused intravaginal implants to achieve synchrony. Previous research shows that using a combination of only two intramuscular injectable hormones can provide similar pregnancy results with less cost and labor. Zutz is investigating how many days apart the injectable hormones should be administered to be most effective for attaining dairy heifer pregnancies.


Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research

The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) builds public-private partnerships to fund bold research addressing big food and agriculture challenges. FFAR was established in the 2014 Farm Bill to increase public agriculture research investments, fill knowledge gaps and complement the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s research agenda. FFAR’s model matches federal funding from Congress with private funding, delivering a powerful return on taxpayer investment. Through collaboration and partnerships, FFAR advances actionable science benefiting farmers, consumers and the environment.


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