Sarah Krueger, Lebo, a second-year veterinary student at Kansas State University, is one of 10 students selected nationally for a Veterinary Student Research Fellowship to Address Global Challenges in Food and Agriculture.

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, in partnership with the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, launched the Veterinary Fellows Program to encourage veterinary scientists to explore and better understand the complexities of animal production, improve animal welfare and enhance human health.

Krueger’s research project is about anaplasmosis, considered to be the most prevalent tick-transmitted disease in cattle worldwide. She is assessing whether the lone star tick, the most common tick found on cattle, contributes to the spread and development of anaplasmosis. Her research could inform disease management and treatment strategies. Krueger’s research mentor is Kathryn Reif, assistant professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Krueger and Reif were paired by Kansas State University’s Veterinary Research Scholars Program, a summer program that provides veterinary students with in-depth, hands-on research opportunities with experienced faculty mentors. The program’s goal is to motivate students toward a research-focused career.

“We are honored to be part of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research’s inaugural fellowship year and for their investment in Sarah as she and Dr. Reif conduct this valuable research to benefit our global and local agriculture,” said Kate KuKanich, Veterinary Research Scholars Program director.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to expand upon my knowledge of research and production medicine as a member of the Veterinary Research Scholars Program with Dr. Reif this summer,” Krueger said. “It is exciting and rewarding to conduct research on and potentially have a positive impact in the management of a disease that is currently affecting many of our beef producers in Kansas and the United States. The support we have received from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research is a testament to the importance of the work we are conducting this summer. I am extremely grateful for their support of our research and the education of veterinary scientists.”

“Sarah’s project will help address whether lone star ticks contribute to the transmission of anaplasmosis, a disease that limits profitable beef production in the U.S.,” Reif said. “This project has allowed Sarah the opportunity to gain experience in clinical disease monitoring, molecular diagnostic techniques, pathogen surveillance and tick transmission experiments — a portfolio of transferable skillsets that can be used to study other diseases of agricultural importance.”

Reif said Krueger has shown herself to be highly motivated.

“She is driven to tackle her respective project, but is also maximizing her summer research experience by contributing to other ongoing anaplasmosis projects,” Reif said. “We are very grateful to the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research Veterinary Fellows Program for supporting this opportunity for Sarah and this research area.”

Organizers of the fellowship program said veterinary medicine is critical to addressing global challenges related to food security, economic well-being and public health. The fellowship creates opportunities for veterinary students to pursue research related to global food security and sustainable animal production.

“The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research Vet Fellows program provides mentorship and experience that prepares rising stars in veterinary science for public service and scientific careers,” said Sally Rockey, executive director of Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. “The first cohort of Vet Fellows is conducting bold research in previously underfunded areas of veterinarian science that help farmers combat pests, disease and antimicrobial resistance.”

The three-month long fellowship allows up to 10 students annually to conduct research with a mentor. The fellowship culminates with student presentations at the annual National Veterinary Scholars Symposium in late July/early August. This year the symposium will be hosted by Tufts University.

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