Veterinary Student Research Fellowship

Contact

Dr. Tim Kurt
tkurt@foundationfar.org

The 2022 application period has closed. The 2023 application period will open the first quarter of 2023.

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About the FFAR Veterinary Student Research Fellowship

Population growth, climate change, emerging infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance threaten 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 for this expertise, few funding opportunities exist for veterinary students to gain experience in these research areas.

We partnered with the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) to create a three-month summer fellowship for veterinary students to prepare future veterinarians for research and public service careers. The FFAR Veterinary Student Research Fellowships (FFAR Vet Fellows) provide unique research opportunities focused on global food security and sustainable animal production. 

To further career advancement, the Vet Fellows are paired with a qualified mentor to gain hands-on research experience examining urgent issues that threaten animal health. 

What we are looking for

  • Agricultural economics
  • Nutritional security and food access
  • Environmental sustainability of agriculture
  • Advanced technologies including gene-editing, precision breeding and microbiome/metagenomics in food production
  • Zoonotic diseases and pandemic prevention (must have a food and agriculture interface)
  • Antimicrobial stewardship and antimicrobial (must have a food and agriculture interface

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

Stipend support of $10,000 per student is provided for up to 15 students per year to perform research with a qualified mentor and to attend the Veterinary Scholars Symposium. Matching funds are not required.

This program is open to domestic and international students currently enrolled in a DVM or VMD degree programs, including combined degree programs. Students that have already received a DVM or Ph.D. degree are not eligible. Prior research experience is not necessary to apply.

Advancing UN Sustainable Development Goals

The FFAR Vet Fellows Program supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), 17 global goals to enhance peace and prosperity, eradicate poverty and protect the environment. Specifically, this research bolsters the following SDGs:

COVID-19 Pandemic Response

FFAR Vet Fellows

Year: 2022

Dannell Kopp

Kansas 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 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 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 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 the small 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.

Year: 2021

Corrin Markey

Virginia-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 Schaubeck

Long 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 Jantzen

University 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 Rasys

University 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 Carpenter

University 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 Garcia

Michigan 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 Brown

North 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 Wangler

University 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 Burleson

Texas 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 Knight

Mississippi 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 McCall

Kansas 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 Guan

Western 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 Nguyen

University 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 Keller

University 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.

Year: 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

University 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 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.

Year: 2019

Roel Becerra

University 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 Cernek

University 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 Crump

University 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 Koo

Western 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 Masterson

Kansas 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 Krueger

Kansas 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 Newberry

University 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 Overcast

Ohio 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 Raines

Auburn 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 Riggs

Colorado 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.

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