Summer Research Fellowships

Summer Research Program for Veterinary Student 

Program Description:

The School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) offers Summer Research Fellowships for 1st or 2nd year veterinary students from Utah State University and other veterinary schools around the world. Applicants cannot be concurrently enrolled in a graduate degree program. At least two positions each year are reserved for students from veterinary schools other than USU. This program is designed to offer veterinary students an opportunity to engage in cutting-edge biomedical research over a 12-week period during the summer. The summer research program offers veterinary students an opportunity to discover the benefit of a veterinary career that includes research and to evaluate research as a career option.

Successful applicants will receive a $5,000 summer stipend. The Merial Veterinary Scholars Program provides partial support for this program. Participants are expected to make a full-time commitment to their research project for a 12-week period between the beginning of May and the end of August.

Faculty Mentor Selection:

Before applying for a summer research fellowship students need to identify a faculty mentor who will help them develop a research proposal. All faculty members of the Department of Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences (ADVS) are eligible to serve as faculty mentors. The table below lists the research interests of some of the SVM/ADVS faculty:

Research faculty and program objectives

Reproduction and Development


Chris Davies & Heloisa Rutigliano

Immunogenetics and Reproductive Immunology. Program goals: To understand the immunological basis of immune-mediated abortion and placental insufficiency, and to develop and test strategies to down-regulate the immune response to the conceptus; To understand the role of the bovine major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes is disease resistance and susceptibility; To develop large animal models for biomedical research.

Ken White

Reproduction & Assisted Reproductive Technologies.  Program goals: to understand genetic reprogramming in SCNT embryos; To improve the survival of SCNT fetuses; To explain the process of oocyte activation in cattle; To develop large animal models for biomedical research.

Irina Polejaeva

Large animal transgenic models, animal cloning.  Program goals:  Production of transgenic animals using somatic cell nuclear transfer technology (SCNT or cloning) for biomedical and agricultural applications.  Clone models include: Caprine model of cardiac fibrosis, Goat cancer model, and Goats producing spider silk.

Zhongde Wang

Genome engineering, epigenetics and stem cells.  Program goals:  Developing novel genome engineering tools for improving livestock (e.g. Mastitis resistance) and for creating transgenic animal models for human diseases; Establish embryonic stem cells from livestock species and from hamsters.

Tom Bunch

Theriogenology and animal reproduction.  Program goal: to develop a practical method to clone mammalian embryos (livestock and certain endangered species) at a high rate of efficiency, and at an efficiency that consistently leads to the birth of a normal neonate.

Animal Nutrition

Jong-Su Eun

Ruminant nutrition.  Program goals:  To investigate manipulation of ruminal fermentation and its contribution to enhancing animal production; To develop feeding strategies to improve environmental performance of ruminants; To improve forage utilization by ruminants in the Intermountain West; To enhance bioactive components on bovine milk and meat.

Animal Molecular Genetics


Clay Isom

Genomics and epigenomics of early embryo development.  Program goals: To understand the molecular determinants of gamete and embryo quality, with the goal of understanding how to intervene (if necessary) to enhance reproductive efficiency; To understand more fully the relationship between environmental factors (e.g., age, nutrition) and reproduction.

Abby Benninghoff

Toxicology, cancer & gene regulation.  Program goals: To understand the influence of environmental factors on mechanisms of gene regulation in determining health and disease in animals and humans; Determine how some environmental contaminants or bioactive food chemicals interact with the genome through nuclear receptor activation or epigenome modification to alter cancer risk.

Animal Health and Disease


Young-Min Lee

Virology and vaccine development.  Program goals:  Molecular mechanisms of viral replication and pathogenesis; Development of effective vaccines/therapeutics against two RNA viruses that are important human and/or veterinary pathogens: Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV)

Brian Gowen,
John Morrey & Bart Tarbet


Virology, antiviral chemotherapy, and vaccine development. Program activities: cell culture and animal infection models for investigating viral pathogenesis and pre-clinical drug development and vaccine efficacy. Ongoing projects to better understand the host response to infection, and virus-host interactions at the whole organism, cellular, and molecular levels with the goal of identifying new targets for intervention.

Kerry Rood & Dave Wilson

Disease prevention in dairy cattle.  Program activities:  Dairy cattle disease surveillance in Utah, Idaho, Colorado; Applied practical research regarding dairy cattle disease control, e.g. surveillance tests, on-farm management practices, testing strategies

Application for a Summer Research Fellowship:

Applications are due February 10, 2014 and are comprised of: (1) a cover page; (2) a research proposal prepared in consultation with a faculty mentor; (3) a letter from the applicant describing the anticipated benefits of the experience; and (4) a statement from the faculty mentor. For detailed instructions, download the call for applications.

Application Review Process:

Applications will be reviewed by the three-member SVM Student Research Committee. Criteria include: 1) scientific merit, 2) clarity of presentation, 3) perceived level of student participation in preparation of the application and execution of the project, 4) faculty mentor commitment to the project (i.e., does the mentor have a strong record of research in the area of the application as evidenced by publications and/or extramural funding). Applicants will receive written notification of whether or not they will receive a fellowship by March 17, 2014.

For More Information:

Questions regarding the Summer Research Fellowship program can be directed to the chair of the SVM Student Research Committee, Dr. Abby Benninghoff (E-mail or telephone 435-797-8649).