Veterinary students rarely spend their entire summer lying on a beach. Many first- and second-year students work in a practice or volunteer in animal welfare projects. Third- and fourth-year students are involved in preceptorships and OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital rounds. This summer sixteen students worked on research with faculty mentors from the Department of Biomedical Science.
Some students in the Summer Research Program use information obtained from the Veterinary Teaching Hospital to study clinical issues like infection. Hannah Shoen (Class of 2017) worked in the lab of Dr. Luiz Bermudez investigating the types of Staphylococcus occurring in hospital cases, and their antibiotic resistance. She also studied the efficacy of the cleaning agent VEDCO D-256. Shoen found oxacillin resistance in S. pseudintermedius. She also found that bacteria survived the current hospital cleaning protocol of wiping surfaces with VEDCO D-256, and she discovered that the manufacturer recommends leaving the cleaning agent on the surface for a full ten minutes before wiping.
Emily Swan, Class of 2017, chose to work with Dr. Kathy O’Reilly because she wanted to tackle a project that would be clinically significant. She investigated the diagnosis of urinary tract infections in the OSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. Currently the VDL uses semi-quantitative grades of 1-4 to designated degree of bacteria present in urine cultures. For comparison, Swan performed quantitative cultures on urine samples, measuring colony-forming units per milliliter. She discovered that there is a gray area around Grade 2 ratings where minimal-growth cultures are sometimes being treated as significant. She concluded that the use of the more expensive, time-consuming process of measuring colony-forming units per milliliter could reduce over-treating of urinary tract infections.
Some of the students in the program this summer worked on projects that bring additional data to ongoing research. Jackie Houser (Class of 2018) examined the relationship between gut microbiota and glucose metabolism in wild mice. She worked in the lab or Dr. Natalia Shulzhenko, whose research focuses on the connection between gut microbiota and diseases like diabetes. Houser compared the gene sequencing profiles of the mouse’s gut microbiota to their glucose metabolism metrics. This information will contribute to the lab’s goal of identifying the specific gut microbes that influence host metabolism.
This is just a small sample of the meaningful work being done by veterinary students in the summer research program. All the students presented their work via posters and presentations at Research Day on September 10th. Jennifer Engelhart received the top score for her presentation on Mycobacteriosis in Lined Sea Horses.
With all the other demands of veterinary college, why should students consider summer research? “This has been a very positive experience for me,” says Emily Swan. “I could see myself pursuing a research-related career in the future. However, even if I don’t end up going in that direction, I think having this background will be very helpful in any veterinary field; being comfortable reading scientific papers and evaluating their results is useful skill for any veterinarian. The knowledge I’ve gained in the bacteriology laboratory will help me understand the diagnostic tests we use and how to interpret their results.”