There is a critical need for veterinarians’ involvement in challenges ranging from environmental sustainability to population growth, yet few fellowship opportunities exist that encourage veterinary students to study these issues. To help students gain this experience, the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) and the Association for American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) are seeking nominations for FFAR’s Veterinary Student Research Fellowships (FFAR Vet Fellows). This fellowship supports veterinary students’ ability to gain experience in animal health, global food security and sustainable agriculture research.
Most funding opportunities for veterinary scientists focus on biomedical research, which leaves new challenges in animal agriculture unaddressed. Veterinarians with experience in medicine, animal sciences and public health add unique perspectives to solving food production challenges and nutritional insecurity. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the need for research that examines whether and how agricultural pathogens could spread in humans.
In 2018, FFAR teamed up with AAVMC to establish the FFAR Vet Fellows and integrate the fellowship with existing summer student research programs. The fellowship culminates at the National Veterinary Scholars Symposium at the end of the summer. The fellowship is open to students currently enrolled in a DVM or VMD degree program.
With the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, FFAR and AAVMC expanded the Vet Fellows program to include student projects that focus on supply chain resilience and surveillance or computational modeling related to the mutation, evolution, transmission and spread of animal coronaviruses and influenza viruses.
The 2021 FFAR Vet Fellows program is accepting up to 15 students to conduct research with a mentor in areas ranging from global food security to mitigating the carbon footprint of agricultural production. Students do not need to have prior research experience and matching funds are not required for this program. The program also encourages nominating institutions to consider how their nominees might contribute to diversity, equity and inclusion in the fields of veterinary medicine and agriculture research.
The deadline to submit nominations is March 24, 2021. Up to two students per institution are eligible for nomination. Specific information about nominations, eligibility and the application process can be found on the 2021 FFAR Vet Fellows Open Opportunity webpage. FFAR and AAVMC will encourage veterinary colleges to consider hosting students from different institutions, including by use of video/remote technologies.
“It is essential that veterinarians have opportunities to gain research expertise across a spectrum of important disciplines,” said FFAR Executive Director Dr. Sally Rockey. “These students may go on to study and mitigate global challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic or climate change. FFAR Vet Fellows allows veterinary students to conduct audacious research at the intersection of global food security and animal health.”
“We’re honored to work with FFAR again on this important program,” said AAVMC CEO Dr. Andrew T. Maccabe. “The experience our students gain through these Veterinary Student Research Fellowships inspires them to consider careers in agricultural, veterinary medical and biomedical research at the same time they provide an opportunity for them to make significant contributions in addressing major problems in food production, food security and public health.”