Awards recognize innovative student projects

Published on July 11, 2018

American Veterinary Medical FoundationCongratulations to 28 graduating veterinary students chosen to receive the prestigious 2018 Merck Animal Health Veterinary Student Innovation Awards offered through the American Veterinary Medical Foundation.

Made possible through a partnership between the AVMF and Merck Animal Health, the awards recognize students for innovation, entrepreneurship and creative forward thinking in the development of a project or product that inspires others in the veterinary profession. The awards competition is open to all graduating seniors at AVMA-accredited veterinary schools in the United States and Canada.

This year’s awards showcase a wide range of student projects in areas as diverse as business management, social media and swine medicine. For example:

  • Suzanne Wilson of the University of Illinois won her award for an initiative creating a social media community that has attracted more than 39,000 members interested in sharing information about veterinary medicine.
  • Richard Blaine Sparks from the University of Tennessee provided a novel internal dosimetry method that helped foster the development of new diagnostic tests and radiopharmaceuticals.
  • Shannon Gildersleeve of the University of Wisconsin was involved with a Student AVMA (SAVMA) survey of student wellbeing, and believed that UW students, faculty and staff needed to hear about it and have an opportunity to discuss wellbeing challenges. She set out to inform them about the survey results and organize a wellbeing committee at the school. "I strongly believe that, now more than ever, taking care of ourselves and each other is incredibly important,” she said.
  • Chelsea Ruston of Iowa State University helped plan and implement the Swine Medicine Talks (SMECast) series of webcasts for veterinary students. Thanks in part to her hard work, the lecture series has reached students at 29 veterinary schools.

While the Merck Animal Health Veterinary Student Innovation Awards honor students for inspiring others, recipients say the recognition also inspires them to continue pursuing their goals. “Receiving the Merck Innovation Award encouraged me to continue to invest my time and energy into the Vets for Vets program at Mississippi State University, even after graduation,” said Courtney Griffin, who was instrumental in starting that program. Vets for Vets provides rehabilitation care for retired military and police dogs.

The other award winners are:

  • Carolyn Benedetto, Louisiana State University
  • Amanda Carlson, Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Meredith Chamberlain, University of Prince Edward Island
  • Caitlin Conner, Texas A & M University
  • Akaterina Davros, Kansas State University
  • Matthew Robert DiFazio, Cornell University
  • Wendy Evans, University of Missouri
  • Anika Farina, Tufts University
  • Shannon Finn, University of Guelph
  • Maryanne “Miko” Flasik, Colorado State University
  • Mackenzie Gallegos, Michigan State University
  • Nicolas Gendron-Parra, University of Montreal
  • John Griffeon, North Carolina State University
  • Nicholas Hall, Washington State University
  • Lindsey Knox, University of Minnesota
  • Laura MacIntyre, Oregon State University
  • Max Manse, University of California - Davis
  • Kayla Mehan, Lincoln Memorial University
  • Samantha Morici, Auburn University
  • Kara Negrini, Purdue University
  • Dustin Ong, Western University
  • Ruben Pabon Padin, The Ohio State University
  • Rayeann Solano, Midwestern University

“We are pleased to recognize and support these outstanding veterinary students,” said AVMF Board Chair Dr. Jan K. Strother. “Not only have these students displayed entrepreneurial spirit, initiative and creativity, but they are also making a positive difference in their communities and in our veterinary profession.”

Visit the AVMF website to learn more about the Merck Animal Health Veterinary Student Innovation Awards.

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