Veterinary Student Research Fellowship


Dr. Tim Kurt

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 Association of American 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 and supply chain resilience, in the U.S. and globally
  • Food access, demand, and nutritional security
  • Mitigating the carbon footprint of agriculture
  • Improving livestock production efficiency in tropical/subtropical environments or changing climate conditions
  • Gene-editing, precision breeding and/or metagenomics research for improved production efficiency, health or welfare
  • Surveillance and/or computational modeling related to the mutation, evolution, transmission and spread of animal coronaviruses and influenza viruses

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 (limit up to two students per institution) to perform research with a qualified mentor and to attend the National Veterinary Scholars Symposium. Matching funds are not required.

This program is open to 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.

COVID-19 Pandemic Response

What to know when applying for the FFAR Vet Fellows

The 2021 nomination period is now open.

All applications must be submitted through our Grants Management System.


FFAR Vet Fellows

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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