Nov. 12, 2021

Curious minds share research and build country-wide veterinary community

UCalgary hosts second Canadian Emerging Veterinary Scholars Summit
Kayla Strong and Juliette Raulic
Kayla Strong and Juliette Raulic took part in an online summit aimed to develop the next generation of veterinary medical and grad student researchers Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

From genotyping feral horses and chronic stress in lemurs to parasites in red foxes on Prince Edward Island, 15 students from Canada’s five veterinary medicine programs gathered virtually last week to present their research, take part in career development workshops, and get to know each other a little. 

The Canadian Emerging Veterinary Scholars Summit (CEVSS), hosted by the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM) and sponsored by Merck Animal Health, was “a great experience,” says Kayla Strong, a PhD candidate at UCVM, who presented her work on assessing antimicrobial resistance risk factors in beef cattle.

“I am familiar with people in my own bubble of antimicrobial resistance research, but I don't often have an opportunity to speak to people who are doing something completely different,” says Strong. “Veterinary medicine is such a small community I think it's helpful to know what else is happening.”

Juliette Raulic, who is a resident in zoological medicine, studying pain management of fish at the Université de Montreal, found it valuable to share her research and take questions from colleagues outside aquatic medicine. “It's great to share our medicine on different species because it will improve our practice,” she says.

Cameron Knight

Cameron Knight, chair of the summit’s organizing committee, says the gathering is a chance for researchers from all five Canadian veterinary schools to meet and get a collaborative circle of research going.

Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

Students being aware of research programs at other veterinary schools is “really useful” says a conference organizer, Dr. Cameron Knight, BVSc, PhD, associate professor at UCVM’s Department of Veterinary Clinical and Diagnostic Sciences.

“It’s easy to stay confined to your own school and not look out for what's going on around Canada,” he says. “This is a chance for these researchers to meet each other and then get more of a collaborative circle of research going. Some topics are fairly similar and the students may not even be aware of each other's research. It's nice to get that connection.”

The summit “encourages the development of the next generation of veterinary medical and graduate student researchers,” says Dr. Janice Berg, director of veterinary affairs at Merck Animal Health. “The sharing of the varied areas of research, the collaborations that result from the relationships started here, and the network formed all support future leaders. From these curious minds will come expansion of knowledge and advancements that will benefit the veterinary community — the people and the animals.”

Getting social online

As well as discussing research, the students took part in workshops on getting their research published and using media relations and social media to spread the word about their work.

“They really hit the nail on the head in terms of choosing topics that were particularly relevant for COVID and coming out of COVID,” says Strong. “Social media is something that I never really had to think about too much before. And now it's a way to really reach out to people when you can't be seeing them face to face. It's increasingly important.”

While a virtual gathering is “never quite the same” as in person, the summit worked really well, says Strong. “I think you get higher engagement when you have people who can join without the logistics of flying out somewhere. What you lose in some aspects, you gain in others.”

Veterinary medicine 'can take you anywhere'

The first CEVSS, also sponsored by Merck, was held in person at the Spyhill campus in 2019. “The opportunity to highlight the undergraduate and graduate veterinary students from the Canadian colleges, provide a forum to share their research interests, and network with peers aligns with Merck’s commitment to the ‘science of healthier animals,’” says Berg.

Knight hopes CEVSS inspires veterinary medicine students to understand “how broad and useful” their degree is. “It can take you anywhere."