Veterinarians represent a large, mostly untapped source of biomedical researchers. Their training provides them with a thorough understanding of the similarities and differences in physiology and diseases of various animal species (comparative medicine). Translating basic medical discoveries into clinical applications, or translational research, continues to thrive as an important priority in biomedical research. Animal models are a critical component of successfully making this transition. Veterinarians trained in research are well-equipped to advance our understanding of both animal and human disease.
Veterinary scientists are also ideally suited for investigating zoonotic diseases and developing novel disease treatments, preventatives, and diagnostic approaches. With their broad training, veterinarians play an important role in understanding the epidemiology of animal diseases while integrating environmental and human health. Finally, veterinary scientists are significant contributors to the advancement of research in areas including food safety, infectious diseases, toxicology, and genomics that may be directly or indirectly linked to biomedical research.
However, when they lack exposure to investigative programs, reltively few veterinary medical graduates pursue training that leads to research careers. The Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine (MSU-CVM) offers a Summer Research Experience Program that introduces veterinary students to biomedical research and the exceptional career opportunities available in that field.
The Summer Research Experience is a 12-week program designed to provide student trainees with exposure to and training in biomedical research. By participating in this program, students obtain skills that will help them grow into leaders in the veterinary profession and gain a solid foundation for making informed career decisions, particularly with respect to careers as veterinary scientists.
To achieve this, students receive training through two major components. The first is a hands-on research experience with a faculty mentor that continues throughout the 12-week program. The second component is a series of interactive educational experiences that are integrated throughout the program and culminate in attending the national Boehringer-Ingelheim (BI)-NIH National Veterinary Scholars Symposium. MSU-CVM is committed to making the research experience for each trainee informative and professionally enriching.
Funding support for the program is provided primarily through Boehringer-Ingelheim (Veterinary Scholars Program) and NIH (T35 program). Our NIH T35 award is jointly administered with Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine (TUCVM). We encourage MSU-CVM and TUCVM students to explore potential mentors at both schools who might best fit their research interests (see faculty mentor lists below).
For the research component, each student in the Summer Research Experience Program works with a faculty mentor that has a matching research interest on a relevant medical or veterinary problem. Through interaction with the mentor, trainees receive training in the formulation of a testable hypothesis and in the design of an appropriate experimental strategy. Trainees conduct research in the faculty mentor’s lab, and they work under their mentor and other laboratory personnel to gather data, analyze, and interpret their findings. Trainees then prepare and present their research results at the MSU-CVM Research Day and the BI-NIH National Veterinary Scholars Symposium. Through this process, trainees learn the value of creative and critical thinking in research, and they receive practical experience in conducting, analyzing, and presenting their research findings.
Much of the educational component occurs early in the program. Training is generally in the form of interactive workshops that prepare students for their research experience and provide them with leadership skills and career guidance. Training sessions include:
- Ethics in Science and Research
- Humane Use of Animals in Research
- Scientific Writing and Presentations
- Writing and Rewriting Grant Proposals
- Effectively using Library Resources to Support Research
- Patenting and Technology Transfer
- Career lunchtime talks featuring veterinarians representing different research career paths
- Veterinarians in leadership roles, representing academia, industry and government career paths
- Laboratory Safety and Biosafety
- Preparing a CV and Cover Letter
2018 Educational Activities Schedule (note that this schedule will be updated by Spring 2019)
The educational component also includes visits to laboratory animal and veterinary diagnostic facilities and allows for periodic meetings between program directors, trainees, and mentors during the summer. It concludes in the BI-NIH National Veterinary Scholars Symposium, which is held annually at a U.S. college of veterinary medicine. At the symposium, trainees present their research findings, attend sessions presented by national leaders in research and the veterinary profession, and interact with fellow veterinary student trainees from across the United States. The 2018 BI-NIH Veterinary Scholars Symposium was sponsored by Texas A&M University and took place August 2 – 5, 2018.
The 2019 Symposium will be held at Worcester State University, Worcester, MA from July 25-28.
We encourage MSU-CVM and TUCVM students to explore potential mentors at both schools who might best fit their research interests (see faculty mentor lists below).
The key to success of the Summer Research Experience Program is the close collaboration of outstanding students with dedicated, competent scientists. A list of the program's mentors and their research areas at Mississippi State University is provided at the following link:
A list of the TUCVM mentors and their research areas is provided here: 2019 Faculty Mentors – TUCVM
To learn more about TUCVM's, Scholars Program, Click Here:
Students must be enrolled and have successfully completed the freshman year of veterinary college in good academic standing; they cannot have completed the veterinary degree at the time of participation in the program. We welcome students from any college of veterinary medicine in the United States to apply to our program. No prior experience in research is required. Mississippi State University is committed to diversity in the educational process and seeks to involve students from under-represented population groups in this program.
The elements of the application include the following:
- an application form(PDF or Word) completed by the student. The application includes information on the student’s academic background, research background, and a statement of the student’s interest and motivation for the program. The application also allows the student to indicate his or her area of research interest.
- a letter from a professional that evaluates the applicant's potential and interest in research. If students identify a mentor with whom they would like to work, we also encourage inclusion of a letter (or email) from that potential mentor confirming availability of a project and commitment to the student.
Submit Application by Email or Mail To:
Summer Research Experience Program
College of Veterinary Medicine
Office of Research and Graduate Studies (R2008)
Mississippi State, MS 39762
Application Deadline and Selection Process
The application deadline for the 2019 program is February 1, 2019. Applicants will be notified whether they were selected for the program by the first week of March. The 2019 program will begin April 30, 2019 for MSU students. For non-MSU students, the start date will depend on each student’s academic schedule.
This program is generously funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, BI Veterinary Scholars Program, and through funds provided by the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine. Student trainees receive a minimum stipend of $6,081 for the entire 12-week program. Stipends for all non-MSU students include a minimum of $1,320 for living expenses ($110 per week).
Morris Animal Foundation Veterinary Student Scholar Program:
The Morris Animal Foundation (MAF) Veterinary Student Scholar Program also funds summer research projects for veterinary students in the areas of animal health and/or welfare. MAF funds research projects that benefit large companion animals, small companion animals, or wildlife/special species. This program is nationally competitive, and MAF announces its grant awardees in March of each year. To apply, students must first identify a research faculty member willing to serve as mentor. Together, the student and mentor develop a research proposal following the program guidelines. The full proposal needs to be submitted to the MSU-CVM Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies ten days prior to the MAF deadline. Selected applications will be submitted to the Morris Animal Foundation. For more information on this program and application materials, contact Dr. Mark Lawrence or visit the program's website.
For more information about the MSU-CVM Summer Research Experience Program, contact:
Dr. Mark Lawrence or Dr. Andrea Varela-Stokes
Co-Directors, Summer Research Experience Program
MSU College of Veterinary Medicine
Telephone: Lawrence: 662-325-1205; Varela-Stokes: 662-325-1130
For information on the National BI Veterinary Scholar Program, click here:
The NIH also offers its own competitive summer training programs for interested veterinary students. For further information see: https://www.training.nih.gov/programs
2018 Summer Research Group