Research Scholars Program

Research Scholars Program


Background:

The 21st century brings increased challenges and responsibilities in medicine, environmental quality, animal agriculture, and species preservation. Such challenges can only be met through a commitment to understanding and an investment in research. Veterinarians, with their broad training in animal biology and comparative medicine, have made and continue to make major contributions to research in these areas. However, the number of graduating veterinarians who pursue careers in research is small, even in the face of increasing demand and attractive salary. 

Goals of the Research Scholars Program:

In view of the potential contribution that research veterinarians can make to the biomedical, agricultural and environmental sciences, we have instituted a Research Scholar Program within the veterinary curriculum of the WIMU Regional Program in Veterinary Medicine. The goals of the Research Scholar Program are to:

  • Attract to the veterinary student population, and hence to the veterinary profession, individuals of exceptional aptitude who are oriented toward a career of basic or applied research,
  • Maintain a high level of motivation for these individuals to pursue advanced training and become productive research scientists,
  • Provide training in the philosophy and methodology of science, as well as hands-on research experience from the level of problem identification through publication of results, and
  • Encourage the participant’s scholarly development through concurrent D.V.M./Ph.D. programs and/or postdoctoral training.

Research Training Environment at USU and WSU:

The USU School of Veterinary Medicine and the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine provide excellent environments in which to pursue research training. The USU Department of Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences has particularly strong research programs in: reproduction and development, molecular genetics, virology and infectious diseases, animal nutrition, and toxicology. At the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine, there are exceptionally strong research programs in the areas of neurobiology, blood and cardiopulmonary studies, muscle function, pharmacology/toxicology, infectious disease and immunology, radiation biology and therapy, and population medicine. All of these research programs use a variety of state-of-the-art methods, from the molecular to the organismal and computational. The laboratories in these areas are recognized internationally, both within and outside the veterinary profession, for their technical and conceptual leadership. Virtually all of our active researchers at the USU-SVM and WSU-CVM are willing to advise Research Scholars and to sponsor their training. Research Scholars also benefit from the flexibility of the fourth year in the veterinary curriculum, which permits scheduling of blocks of several months for research activities.

Research Scholars Curriculum:

In keeping with the goals of the program, Research Scholars participate fully in the veterinary curriculum. Additional curricular requirements, unique to the Research Scholar Program, focus on encouraging intellectual involvement in research problem solving and on providing a hands-on research experience for each student under the supervision of a faculty mentor. These additional curricular requirements are:

A weekly fall seminar course in Research Orientation (VM508/VM7508) to survey ongoing research and research services, the goal of which is to acquaint students with the nature of ongoing research programs in the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine, USU School of Veterinary Medicine, and associated institutions and departments. At the end of the fall semester, students formally submit their applications to the Research Scholars Program for review by the WIMU Research Scholars Steering Committee.

A weekly spring seminar course in Research Issues (VM509/VM7509), organized around selected monographs that emphasize concepts, issues, and points of historical interest essential to the intellectual enterprise of research.

Laboratory Research and Publication:

Students are free to choose an adviser as early as the time of admission. However, each student should have selected an adviser by the end of the first semester in the Program. The adviser and student will develop a research program for the student, which will be well circumscribed, and within the student’s capabilities. Arrangements will be made for the student to begin working on a project at a time that is acceptable to both student and mentor. It is expected, however, that Research Scholars will begin hands-on laboratory work at their earliest opportunity and no later than the first summer following entry into the veterinary curriculum. All Research Scholars are expected to be involved in research during the summer months (Summer Research Fellowship). This research will be based on the proposal submitted during the previous spring. A second summer research proposal must be submitted during the spring of the student’s second year. During the third year of the professional curriculum, Research Scholars are expected to attend weekly Departmental research seminars, and are encouraged to continue their research activities during the academic year to the extent that doing so does not interfere with professional coursework (a summer research proposal is not required). By graduation, each student should have submitted at least one article for publication in a refereed journal.

Financial Support for Research Scholars:

Veterinary students participating in the Research Scholar Program are eligible for all forms of financial aid available to other veterinary students. In addition, the Research Scholars Steering Committee may award stipends to students when funds are available. Currently, participants receive $2,500 during each of the first three years. A funded Summer Research Fellowship will provide an additional stipend above and beyond that provided by the Research Scholars Program. No stipends are awarded during the fourth year. Stipend recipients must sign a loan payback agreement committing them to completion of the Research Scholar Program through the fourth year of professional study. If a student voluntarily terminates participation in the Research Scholars Program during the second or third year of the program, any monies received beyond the first year will be considered a loan to be repaid to the USU-SVM or WSU-CVM, rather than a grant. Individual research advisers and departments may supplement Research Scholar stipends at any time. Such supplements would not be covered by the payback agreement. Furthermore, students may elect to stay in the Research Scholars Program but to decline financial support subsequent to the first year.

Admission to the Research Scholar Program:

Admission to the Research Scholar Program is competitive. Students interested in the Program should attend the fall seminar course VM508/VM7508 during their first year of veterinary school. Students apply for admission to the Research Scholars Program by submitting application materials midway through their first year in the professional curriculum. Research Scholar candidate applications are reviewed by the WIMU Research Scholars Steering Committee. The Committee will also review each student’s original application to veterinary school as part of the total application package for the Research Scholars Program. Students who do not apply or who were not admitted to the Research Scholar Program in their first year may make application midway through their second year of veterinary school. Those students should attend the seminar course VM508/VM7508 in fall semester of the second year. The applications of these students will be reviewed with those of the current first year students.  In the spring semester, research scholars are required to take a second seminar course VM509/VM7509, which covers topics such as biomedical ethics, experimental design, etc.

For Application Materials or Questions, Contact:

Mr. Michael Bishop
Academic and Student Services Coordinator
School of Veterinary Medicine
4815 Old Main Hill
Utah State University
Logan, UT 84322-4815
(435) 797-8786

michael.s.bishop@usu.edu