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Summer research program offers students valuable experience

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Amy Lin adjusts the treadmill speed for a parrot in her study. Lin was one of 13 participants from this year’s STAR program to attend the 2013 Merial-NIH Veterinary Scholars Symposium at Michigan State University, which will be hosted at UC Davis in 2015.

Aug. 2013

Summer may signal a break from classes, but for second-year veterinary student Amy Lin, it was also an opportunity to conduct research that may guide her future career choice. As one of 33 participants in the Students Training in Advanced Research (STAR) program, Lin designed and conducted a study to determine the effects of exercise on Hispaniolan Amazon parrots with high cholesterol levels.

“The program has allowed me to not only conduct research, but gain clinical skills in bird handling, which gives me additional confidence if I choose to pursue avian medicine,” Lin said.  

Between 30 and 35 veterinary students are accepted annually to participate in the highly competitive STAR program through the school’s Office of Research and Graduate Education, which provides coordination and funding. Over the course of 10 weeks, students practice oral and PowerPoint™ presentations on their findings. Their experience culminates in a poster session for the school.  

Some go on to present at scientific meetings while others pursue publication. Fourth-year student Jenna Winer's 2012 STAR project (in collaboration with UC Davis senior Shannon Liong and veterinary school Professor Frank Verstraete), "The dental pathology of the southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis)," made the cover of the August-October 2013 issue of the Journal of Comparative Pathology. A second paper forthcoming from this project can be found here.  

“Our goal is to identify, nurture and support veterinary students who may want to pursue academic research careers,” said Isaac Pessah, Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Education. “Those who plan a traditional practice also benefit by learning to evaluate new knowledge and how it may apply to future patients.” 

For more information on the STAR program

Previous article on the STAR program