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Kimberly Conway Selected for Prestigious Smith-Kilborne Program

February 19, 2016

Kimberly Conway, a second year veterinary student, was recently chosen as the school’s student representative for the Smith-Kilborne Foreign Animal Disease Program. This program will allow Conway the chance to study foreign animal diseases alongside other selected students at the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Headquarters and the Plum Island Animal Disease Center.

The Smith-Kilborne Program is designed to familiarize veterinary students with various foreign animal diseases that potentially threaten the nation’s domestic animal population. The program combines classroom presentations on diseases and their implications with laboratory experiences.
Conway said the program is an important step in her path to pursuing a public health veterinary career and is the perfect follow up to her experiences last summer when she had the opportunity to work as a contractor under USDA-APHIS as an Avian Influenza Emergency Responder in Ames, Iowa at the height of a devastating avian flu outbreak. She worked at the Incident Command Post, and was trained by the USDA’s Disease Reporting Officers and Epidemiologists to use the Emergency Management Response System (EMRS), a computer system used by federal health agencies to manage foreign animal disease outbreaks.

“As someone who has dreamed of working on disease outbreaks, I found that working 12-13 hour days, 7 days a week, for 35 days in a row was the best job I’ve ever had,” Conway said.

On campus, Conway serves as a member of the Students for One Health Nicaragua team. They are working to solve livestock and poultry production problems due to disease, and will be implementing innovative ideas to tackle these problems when they travel to Sabana Grande, Nicaragua next summer. Additionally, she is President-elect of the Veterinary Public Health Organization (VPHO), and a member of other clubs including FARM club, Students for One Health, and the Wildlife and Aquatic Medicine club.

Conway aspires to pursue a MPVM degree, apply for the Epidemic Intelligence Service through the CDC, and ultimately become a veterinary epidemiologist for a federal agency. Her hope is to discover emerging infectious diseases in animals to help suppress the amount of outbreaks in animal and human populations.

“I have seen firsthand the devastating loss of over 40 million laying hens and turkeys from the worst Avian Influenza epidemic our country has seen, and I am extremely passionate about preventing similar outbreaks in the future,” Conway said. “I look forward to using my experience to become part of the new generation of public health veterinarians at a time when it is needed the most, and the Smith-Kilborne program is a crucial step in helping me achieve these goals.”