Students receive awards for research projects

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The Morris Animal Foundation announced March 11 the project winners of its Veterinary Student Scholars Program.

The foundation launched the VSS Program five years ago as a way to give veterinary students hands-on involvement in research early in their veterinary studies. Last summer, students from around the world were awarded funds for research projects that sought to improve the health and well-being of wildlife. Eighteen students presented posters showing their results at the foundation's February 2010 board meeting in San Francisco.

Winners received awards of $5,000, $2,500, and $1,500 for first, second, and third place, respectively.

This year the top prize went to Viviana Gonzalez from the University of La Salle in Colombia. Gonzalez studied the prevalence of antibodies against leptospirosis in primates at two zoos in Colombia.

Second place went to Janessa Gjeltema, a student at North Carolina State University, for her work in studying polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon contamination in a breeding pool filled with Puerto Rican crested toads.

Third place went to Janis Hooge from Massey University in New Zealand for her work on detecting tickborne pathogens in a common antelope species, Grant's gazelles, in Kenya.