Veterinary Student Research Fellowship
FFAR Vet Fellows
Caitlyn BurkeMississippi State University
Dystocia, or difficult calving, contributes to increased risk of cow and calf respiratory and digestive disorders, mastitis, metritis, retained placentae and death. Burke is investigating using the hormone Relaxin to increase maternal pelvic size, which if successful, could reduce mortality and morbidity associated with dystocia in first-time calving heifers.
Kassandra CrissmanLouisiana State University
Artificial insemination is an emerging practice in goat and sheep breeding programs to increase breeding efficiency and much is unknown about how this practice impacts important microbes in the female reproductive tract and fertility. Crissman is investigating these microbes in goat and sheep in heat and correlating her data to pregnancy outcomes to enhance breeding efficiency in these food animal species.
Lauren Nicole CromwellUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison
Pigs commonly undergo a variety of medical procedures to remedy injury and disease or for castration, but swine pain management is under-investigated, and providing pain-relief is difficult for many reasons. Cromwell is assessing whether a new, longer acting topical buprenorphine solution could provide an alternative, non-invasive pain-relief option for swine.
Makayla EllistonOklahoma State University
Johne’s Disease is a slow-progressing gut infection in goats that often results in death. The disease is not only compromises goats’ welfare but also reduces producers’ bottom line. Johne’s disease is nearly impossible to diagnose before symptoms appear, by which time the infection is usually spread throughout the herd. Elliston is looking for cellular changes that can provide clues to detect the disease before goats develop symptoms and spread it to other animals.
Deanna GennettKansas State University
Gennett is analyzing cattle growth and health metrics in the feedlot to quantitatively document how efficient, healthy cattle emit less enteric methane gas, which negatively impacts the environment. The data will help quantify the relationship between the cattle production system and its impact on greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, this research can contribute to herd management strategies that promote healthy cattle while protecting the environment.
Briana GleizerVirginia Tech
Haemonchus contortus is the most economically significant parasite infecting sheep and goats in the U.S. and around the globe. It causes anemia, decreased milk production, poor wool growth and often death in sheep and goats. Gleizer is using digital photographs of sheep and goat eye and oral membranes, as well as blood and fecal samples, to develop an easy-to-use phone app to detect the anemia caused by the parasite and decide if treatment is necessary.
Carla JosephRoss University
Researchers have found that donkeys artificially inseminated with frozen semen have low pregnancy rates due to uterine inflammation resulting from the procedure. Joseph is investigating using intrauterine infusions of platelet-rich plasma (PRP), commonly used to treat diverse inflammatory conditions, to mitigate this inflammation and improve pregnancy rates. This research aims to increase reproductive success and recover populations of endangered donkey breeds.
Eleanor L. KharaschTufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine
Producers routinely administer medicines to sheep and goats to minimize internal worms, which negatively affect the animals’ health. Resistance patterns to common deworming medications in U.S. Northeast sheep and goats are currently unknown. Kharasch is measuring the efficacy of a common dewormer against sheep and goat gastrointestinal parasites across several New England farms. The resulting regional-specific data can advance parasite management, reduce the use of unnecessary treatment and slow rates of resistance to medically necessary drugs.
Taylor MortensenVirginia Tech
Leishmania spp., is an infectious disease carried by Peruvian Amazon sandflies that then infect local domestic animals, wildlife and humans with the disease. To prevent the spread of the disease, Mortensen is collecting, identifying and evaluating the presence of Leishmania spp. and other potentially infectious diseases in Peruvian Amazon sandflies to determine if there are differences in the transmission potential of different sandfly species.
Ali Olsen-GerlachTexas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine
Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD) is a major beef industry problem, resulting in animal welfare issues and economic loss for producers. To control it, producers routinely give antibiotics to all cattle arriving at feedlots. Olsen is evaluating how these commonly used antibiotics impact bacteria in healthy cattle—beyond preventing BRD—to provide producers new information to increase their antibiotic stewardship efforts.
Madison RoweTexas A&M University
Honey bees are an ecologically and economically important livestock species often overlooked in veterinary agricultural research. Rowe is studying the behavioral and reproductive effects of a detrimental gastrointestinal fungus, Nosema ceranae, in honey bee queens and workers to determine the indirect impacts of infection. This research will inform future treatments and supportive care for the disease, as well as trace potential production impacts that occur prior to colony collapse.
Angelique VelasquezTexas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine
Cattle ranchers use in vitro fertilization to produce more calves in a shorter period of time and with the most desirable genetics. To improve the success rate of in vitro fertilized eggs becoming embryos for implantation in surrogate cows, Velasquez is manipulating the early in vitro embryo dynamics and observing daily changes in embryo development to predict as early as possible which will be viable.
Courtney WallnerTufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine
Honey bees pollinate over 80% of all flowering plants, including many agricultural crops. They play an integral role in ecosystem health and food security but face numerous threats from parasitism to pesticide toxicity. In 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a directive that tasked veterinarians with overseeing their care, yet honey bees are the only food-producing species not traditionally taught in U.S. veterinary schools. To address this knowledge gap, Wallner is designing a honey bee medicine curriculum tailored to veterinary students and professionals to increase the number of veterinarians able to see honey bees as patients.
Dannell KoppKansas State University
Early 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 LopezIowa 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 PetersonIowa 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 RasmussenUniversity 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 RodriguezUniversity 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 SamuelsRoss 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 SterzingerIowa 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 Pasteurellacae pathogens 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 WengLong 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 WichmanUniversity 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 WitUtrecht 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 WongWestern 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 the small intestines of affected chickens is a potential alternative to antibiotics.
Jared YoungUniversity 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 ZutzUniversity 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.
Corrin MarkeyVirginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine
Brucellosis, Q fever and MERS-CoV are severe zoonotic diseases that affect camels and can spread to humans. Markey is compiling baseline information that local animal health authorities in Samburu, Kenya can use to formulate, implement and evaluate disease control and preventive measures for these infectious diseases in camels. Additionally, Markey is estimating the level of pathogens that can cause these diseases and identifying exposure factors associated with positive brucellosis, Q fever and/or MERS-CoV antibodies in camels.
Anna SchaubeckLong Island University
The American lobster is an economically important commodity for the US shellfish industry. Epizootic shell disease (ESD) is an infection on the shell, which can lead to secondary infections or death. This emerging disease is associated with warming seawater temperatures, caused by climate change. Schaubeck is using computational tools to identify ESD-associated microbiota changes in American lobsters and genes that are associated with protection against ESD. This work protects a valuable industry from changing climate impacts.
Derek JantzenUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison
Imaging technology and artificial intelligence may predict mammary gland (responsible for milk production) growth and milk production of heifers, female calves, prior to their first lactation. Jantzen is further developing a radio frequency identification (RFID)-camera system to evaluate image-based body weight modeling for heifers and developing an automated system to analyze ultrasound images from the mammary grand. He is combining body measurements and the ultrasound image assessment of mammary glands with genomic information to predict reproduction and production performance.
Ashley RasysUniversity of Georgia
Current gene editing methods are often expensive and time-consuming. Rasys developed a more efficient and affordable gene editing approach that she used to successfully create the world’s first genetically modified reptile. Rasys is adapting this technique to mutate a gene to cause albinism in chickens, which involves microinjecting CRISPR, a technology to edit genes, directly into adult female unfertilized eggs. Editing genes in birds has been notoriously difficult using CRISPR or other genome editing tools, yet these technologies have huge potential for improving animal health and welfare in poultry, the food animal species with the fastest growing global demand.
Bailey CarpenterUniversity of Pennsylvania
Food production in West Africa relies on rain-fed agriculture, which is a challenge considering climate change, informal and sometimes unreliable markets and competition with imported food products. Strategies to reduce production and economic risks can improve financial returns for smallholder farmers. Carpenter is creating a model for poultry production that captures poultry health, nutrition, biosecurity and commercial sales, as well as related financial projections for testing, at a teaching and research farm in The Gambia.
Carmen-Maria GarciaMichigan State University
Livestock are exposed to a multitude of environmental and social stressors, which impact health, wellbeing and performance. Early weaning (EW) in swine production is linked with increased disease risk and reduced performance over the pig’s lifetime. How EW practices lead to long-term disease vulnerability is unknown and targeted interventions are lacking. Garcia’s research is examining whether EW pigs’ immune systems exhibit stress-induced glucose use, which could drive inflammation and increased disease risk.
Chalise BrownNorth Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine
Salmonellosis is an infection of the digestive tract caused by the bacterium Salmonella enterica that can cause illness in cattle and humans. Neutrophils, a type of white blood cell, causes inflammation that can enable salmonella to colonize the digestive tract. Brown is assessing how blocking a host protein that regulates neutrophil function will alter salmonella-induced neutrophil inflammatory functions. This research is determining if the host protein is a viable therapeutic target for combating tissue damage resulting from diseases like salmonellosis.
Courtney WanglerUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Influenza A virus (swine flu) is an endemic pathogen of pigs that can cause significant illness and is difficult to control. Wangler’s research seeks to develop a rapid, low-cost test to determine the presence of influenza A in swine herds, enabling appropriate disease control interventions.
Daniella BurlesonTexas A&M University
Nontyphoidal salmonella infections, caused by the bacterium Salmonella enterica, are a significant public health problem in the US. Characterized by symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea and vomiting, nontyphoidal salmonella infections can spread to humans who eat contaminated animal products. Burleson is using droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) technology, a technique that partitions nucleic acid samples into thousands of droplets and amplifies DNA or RNA targets, to detect and quantify antimicrobial resistance genes in nontyphoidal Salmonella enterica from cattle fecal samples. This work helps researchers better understand antimicrobial resistance in animals and the environment.
Hannah KnightMississippi State University, College of Veterinary Medicine
Macrophages are specialized immune cells that detect and respond to harmful bacteria. Knight is analyzing whether exposure to beta-glucans boost macrophage function in fish to achieve immunity equivalent to vaccination. Knight is using next generation sequencing, a technique that reads DNA sequences in small fragments and reassembles them to create a complete sequence, to evaluate gene expressions that strengthen immunity. Methods to boost innate immunity can enhance disease resistance, improving animal health and production efficiency.
Jayden McCallKansas State University
African swine fever virus (ASFV) causes a highly contagious and deadly disease of swine for which there is no vaccine. McCall is identifying protective antigens, viral proteins that produce a protective immune response in the body, within the ASFV genome. This information is critical to developing an efficient vaccine against ASFV, greatly benefitting global pork producers.
Jimmy GuanWestern University of Health Science
Administering enzyme supplements in poultry is a longstanding practice thought to increase meat and egg production. Guan is evaluating enzymes that break down non-starch polysaccharides (NSPases), complex carbohydrates that that can improve energy use and feed efficiency of broiler chickens. An Aspergillus spp. known to produce these NSPases were fed to a group of chickens in addition to the purified enzyme. Guan is evaluating how purified NSPases and Aspergillus-produced NSPases impact the gut microbiome, research that could improve animal performance without the use of antibiotics.
Kim NguyenUniversity of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine
The Center for Animal Health and Food Safety at the University of Minnesota developed an event-based biosurveillance system that helps prevent the introduction of foreign pathogens into the US by gathering and analyzing data on environmental health sources. Nguyen is evaluating the impact of this system and contrasting its sensitivity to other global surveillance systems used for monitoring emerging animal diseases.
Stefan KellerUniversity of Missouri
Ticks can transmit several different pathogens to cattle and other livestock, which cause diseases that impact economic livelihoods and nutritional security globally. Keller’s work aims to use an experimental tick-borne bovine anaplasmosis model system to better understand how bovine immune responses to tick vectors can interfere with tick transmission of the etiologic agent, Anaplasma marginale, with the goal of identifying tick molecules targeted by antibodies from protected cattle.
Alec LucasMississippi 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 AndrewsUniversity 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 BarberMississippi 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 KinkadeUniversity 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 CruzUniversity 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 RehmanUniversity 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.
Lauren HerdKansas 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 LaabsUniversity 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 BoulangerUniversity 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 BotkinUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Rotavirus is a small intestinal disease that is infecting piglets 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 XuUniversity 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.
Roel BecerraUniversity of Georgia
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.
Preston CernekUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison
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.
Shelby CrumpUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison
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.
Melody KooWestern University of Health Sciences
Current tests for detecting animals carrying Piroplasmosis, a blood-borne disease that affects wild and domestic animals in Africa and Europe, are not effective. Koo’s research uses next-generation genetic sequencing technology to improve the test based on Piroplasmosis species’ DNA.
Hayley MastersonKansas State University
Masterson is researching 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.
Sarah KruegerKansas State University
Anaplasmosis is the most prevalent tick-transmitted disease in cattle worldwide. Krueger is assessing whether the Lone Star tick, the most common tick found on cattle, contributes to the spread and development of anaplasmosis. Her research could inform disease management and treatment strategies.
Cara NewberryUniversity of California, Davis
Antimicrobial resistance 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.
Macon OvercastOhio State University
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.
Laura RainesAuburn University
Bovine viral diarrhea virus 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 disease spread.
Lauren RiggsColorado State University
Bluetongue virus and epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus are both transmitted by insects and infect ruminant animals. 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.