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MU’s Veterinary Research Scholars
Wrap Up Successful Summer

(image gallery below)

The MU College of Veterinary Medicine recently completed its fourth annual Veterinary Research Scholars Program (VRSP). Sponsored by Merck, Merial, Pfizer and the MU CVM, the VRSP gives students in the Pre-Veterinary Medical Scholars Program and first- and second-year veterinary students the opportunity to spend their summer break exploring research.

As outlined in several publications, including “National Need and Priorities for Veterinarians in Biomedical Research” and “National Needs for Research in Veterinary Science,” veterinarians, with their broad knowledge of animal biology, have a tremendous and unique potential to contribute to numerous scientific disciplines. These publications have also identified a critical shortage of veterinarians who pursue research-oriented careers.

MU’s vibrant research community is an ideal setting for the development of veterinarians as biomedical researchers. The VRSP provides a foundation in research methodology through an intensive research experience that includes experimental methodology, seminars and discussions that give a broad exposure to biomedical sciences, and social events that foster interaction and a sense of community.

The 2008 VRSP scholars began designing and implementing research projects with their faculty mentor in February. When the summer break began, scholars hit the lab full time. Almost immediately, they began preparing for the focal point of the program, the National Merck-Merial Symposium, which this year was held at Michigan State University in East Lansing.

The symposium provides a forum where scholars from summer research programs across the country gather to network and share their science. Attending scholars prepare research posters and present their data to peers and faculty from other programs. They also attend seminars and mini-symposia led by prominent scientists and learn about post-DVM training programs in biomedical research. In 2008, more than 330 scholars from 25 programs from the United States and Canada participated. VRSP posters were well received and can be viewed at the VRSP Web page (

Social and networking activities are also a critical component of summer research programs, as they facilitate development of a research community among veterinary students. In addition to the national symposium, MU scholars participated in several activities, including tours of Bayer and the Stowers Institute in Kansas City, Mo., a trip to the University of Oklahoma Heath Sciences Center’s BSL2 and baboon breeding facilities in Oklahoma City, and a trip to Pfizer in St. Louis, Mo. One highlight of the program was meeting scholars from Kansas State University and Oklahoma State University at Kansas City’s Worlds of Fun amusement park. Participants got to know each other during the ‘Lab Olympics,’ where four mixed teams of MU, KSU and OSU scholars competed in events such as the pipette race, the gel toss, and the biohazard sack race. The national symposium also featured social activities including a barbecue at the Potter Zoo, where a few lucky MU scholars actually assisted in a wound repair of a gray fox.

The 2008 VRSP attracted 14 students from MU, as well as two students from the University of Tennessee. Moreover, one of the 2007 MU scholars, Rachael Cohen, ventured off to Kansas State University to further explore research as part of the KSU VRSP. The program has been well received by scholars and mentors alike.

For more information about the MU Veterinary Research Scholar’s Program, visit the VRSP Web page at

For general information about research opportunities for veterinary students and veterinarians, see and


2008 University of Missouri Veterinary Research Scholars



Project Title

Cynthia Alvarado,

VM2, University of Tennessee

Dr. Bob Livingston

Serodiagnosis of Murine Norovirus in Mice Using Recombinant Virus-like Particles

Emily Basler,

VM2, University of Missouri

Dr. John Middleton

Characterizing Staphylococci from Mammary Quarters Co-infected with Another Mastitis Agent

Michael Betley,

VM2, University of Missouri

Dr. Yuksel Agca

Motility Comparison of Epididymal Rat Sperm after Exposure to Various Molar Concentrations of Trehalose

Annie Chih,

VM2, University of Missouri

Dr. Rebecca Johnson

Exercise Motivation and Fitness Through Dog Walking Among Older Adults

Maria Evola,

VM2, University of Missouri

Dr. Marc Hamilton

Don’t Just Stand for That! Effects of Posture on Muscle Recruitment

Rachel Halpin,

VM2, University of Missouri

Dr. Charlie Brown

The Role of Fish Oil in Limiting Inflammation

Mark Harmon,

VM2, University of Missouri

Dr. Cathleen Kovarik

The Effect of Estradiol on GnRH mRNA Expression in Old Mouse Hypothalamic Tissue

Kimberly Hause,

VM2, University of Missouri

Drs. Leah Cohn and John Middleton

Classification of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus Strains in Cystic Fibrosis Patients

Katharine Horzmann,

VM2, University of Missouri

Drs. Harold Laughlin and James Turk

Adipocyte Diameter and Adipose Inflammation in Swine

Jessie Krause,

VM2, University of Missouri

Dr. Susan Schommer

Evolution of PRRSV in an Experimentally Infected Swine Herd

Christine Nagel

VM2, University of Missouri

Dr. Jimi Cook

Effects of Resection Technique on Cell Viability, Metabolism, and Tissue Architecture of Normal Menisci

Paul Nolen,

VM2, University of Tennessee

Drs. Craig Franklin and Matt Myles

Estrogen Modulation of Innate Immunity in a Mouse Model of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Amanda Perman,

VM1, University of Missouri

Dr. Elizabeth Bryda

Characterization of a New Gene Causing Male Infertility in the M366 Mouse Model

Rachel Ray,

VM3, University of Missouri

Dr. Rebecca Johnson

Shelter Dog Adoptability Through Dog Walking: A Study Benefiting Shelter Dogs and Older Adults

Heather Wise,

VM1, University of Missouri

Dr. Kevin Keegan

Response to Hock Flexion Test in Sound Horses as Measured by a Wireless, Inertial Sensor-Based Motion Analysis System

Ben Yarnall,

Pre-Vet Scholar, University of Missouri

Dr. Aaron Stoker

Analysis of Chondrocyte Metabolism In Vitro Utilizing Different Culture Methodology


The 2008 University of Missouri Veterinary Research Scholars enjoy a break at Oceans of Fun in Kansas City.
Cynthia Alvarado visits the Potter Zoo as part of the National Veterinary Research Scholars Program Symposium in East Lansing, Mich.
Marie Evola auscultates a gray fox that is having a wound repaired at the Potter Zoo. Evola was on a zoo visit while attending the National Veterinary Research Scholars Program Symposium in East Lansing, Mich.
Annie Chih is the model in the “dress your partner in PPE” Science Olympics event at Worlds of Fun amusement park in Kansas City with scholars from the Oklahoma State and Kansas State VRSPs.
Ben Yarnall and Heather Wise are all smiles riding the Mamba at Worlds of Fun amusement park in Kansas City.
Heather Wise discusses her poster at the National Merck-Merial Symposium in East Lansing Mich.



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Last Update: February 29, 2012