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Vet Students Continue to Learn in Summer

Thursday, Jul. 03, 2014

USU veterinary science student Marie Witceck

This summer, Marie Witbeck is studying a bovine virus through the School of Veterinary Medicine's Summer Research Fellowship Program.

USU vet science student Mark Robison

Mark Robison will be starting his second year of veterinary school this fall and is spending his summer working in the field of toxicology.

For many college students, summer provides a much-needed break from school and studying. But for several first- and second-year students at Utah State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine, learning continues in the less formal, but valuable, form of summer jobs, internships and research opportunities.

These additional experiences are not required of veterinary students but allow them to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to a real-world setting while solidifying their classroom knowledge.

“For my learning style, hands-on is really the only way that I can keep the material,” said Mark Robison, a vet student who works at the Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, a collaborative effort by Utah State University and the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.

Robison works full-time in the area of toxicology and helps to prepare many of the tests before they are run. However, he is often able to watch actual practices, such as animal autopsies, called necropsies, which is what he enjoys most.

“Interesting things are always coming in here, so I can pause from that and go watch,” Robison said. “It’s a way to remember the stuff that I learned and also prepare for what’s coming [in Pullman].”

For students like Robison, who will be starting his second year of vet school in the fall, classes and course work in the future will become more intensive. This is also true for SVM’s inaugural class who will complete their third and fourth years of veterinary school at Washington State University in Pullman, Wash., this fall. 

To prepare for this intensive schedule, students also have the opportunity to work on research through the SVM’s Summer Research Fellowship Program. In this program, students work with a faculty mentor who helps them develop a research proposal and oversees their work.

Marie Witbeck is a student in the program who is studying a bovine diarrhea virus. Her research involves two testing methods to see which is more effective. Although her work is centered on one virus, she feels that the work she’s doing will be beneficial.

“You may not necessarily be doing the research, unless you become a research vet, but even learning about the different diseases that we’re working with, you will be seeing those in a clinical setting,” she said.

Student Lauren Ayne, who is researching bovine respiratory diseases, noted that her work has also allowed her to take charge of her project seeing what works and what doesn’t and then act accordingly.

“I think it’s cool to have my own project,” she said. “[The professors] are still helping us, but it’s on our own schedule.”

Related links:

USU School of Veterinary Medicine

USU College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences

Contact: Johanna Rigas, 435-797-1799,

Contact: Kris Sakurai,

Writer: Allie Jeppson Jurkatis, 435-797-7406,

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