Medicine news

Grant expands scope of research trip to South Africa

A North Carolina State undergraduate student majoring in animal science, a recent master’s degree graduate, and a burgeoning third-year student at the North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine work among the wildlife in South Africa this month, thanks to a North Carolina State Internationalization Seed Grant awarded to help broaden the participation of minority students in global field research.

Shweta Trivedi, a teaching professor at the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, leads a practical study abroad program in South Africa each spring for undergraduate students participating in pre-vet studies. Last year, she applied for a $5,000 grant to encourage students from underrepresented minorities to participate, and she invited Tara Harrison, assistant professor of exotic and wildlife medicine, to participate in the grant.

COVID forced the cancellation of the 2021 trip, but Trivedi and 16 students left for South Africa on May 9, and Harrison and Kayla Bonadie, a rising third-year CVM student from Florida, left on May 17. . Due to evolving pandemic restrictions, Trivedi has not learned until February that the course has finally launched.

Todd See, head of the Department of Animal Science, and sidthakurDirector of global health at the College of Veterinary Medicine, each provided $2,500 to match the $5,000 grant.

NC State’s Shweta Trivedi and student Beatrice Eddy, far right, help assess a rhino in South Africa.

Applying for the grant, Trivedi said, “The overall aim…is to build on the success of our established study abroad program in South Africa and create a pathway for minority students under -represented (URM) to collaborate and engage in field research. The intentional engagement of URM students results from the lack of diversity among students pursuing wildlife conservation research and research.

All students, among other veterinary experiments, will study the microbiomes of wild rhinos and extract DNA from them in an effort to learn how to better care for human-managed rhinos. The rhino research will contribute to the ongoing work of recent Trivedi M.A. recipient Christina Burnham. Beatrice Eddy, an undergraduate animal science student, is the third recipient of the grant.

“I really wanted these students to immerse themselves in field work, doing health assessments, collecting samples, all while understanding endangered animals, especially the southern white rhino,” Trivedi says. “I strongly believe in the globalization of experiences. It changes your perspective, not only makes you respect a new culture, but also helps you appreciate what everyone is doing to do their part to manage and protect wildlife.

Trivedi partners with SA World Veterans in planning routes for trips.

“The good part about these vets is that nothing is staged,” Trivedi says. “It’s busy from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.”

Nearly 50 students have applied for the study abroad trip, but Trivedi is trying to keep the number below 20 so students have a better chance of gaining hands-on experience. Six CVM students identifying as minorities wrote essays about why they wanted to go with Harrison, and Bonadie got the spot.

Third-year CVM student Kayla Bonadie examines a wildebeest in South Africa.

“I had done research on box turtles in the field and research on sharks in a lab working with samples,” says Bonadie. “Now I can put the lab side together with the field work and really learn from start to finish how to integrate that and really get results and data. The opportunity to do veterinary work on species like this- This is not very common.When working with wild animals, you have to be prepared for things to go wrong or for every detail to be ironed out.

Trivedi is especially thrilled that the rhino research and the reach of the grant will continue even after the students return. Burnham, Bonadie and Eddy will be able to work on DNA extractions in the lab of Thakur, who earned his doctorate. in population medicine at NC State.

“These are samples of free-ranging southern white rhinos that they’ve been working with,” Trivedi says. “They will learn how to use R software to make sense of microbiome genomic data. It’s a great collaboration. »

I strongly believe in the globalization of experiences. It changes your perspective, not only makes you respect a new culture, but also helps you appreciate what everyone is doing to do their part to manage and protect wildlife.
-Shweta Trivedi, Teaching Professor at the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Harrison loves the idea of ​​expanding her students’ understanding of what research entails.

“Not just research, but research in a developing country, field research in another country,” Harrison says. “There may be Wi-Fi. There may not be. You may need to drive to a nearby town. I know enough about technology to have plans from A to Z ready.

Trivedi is the founding director of the Veterinary Professions Advisory Center or VetPAC at NC State and teaches anatomy and physiology to animal science majors.

“There will be veterinary education and training for my 16 students,” says Trivedi. “I will simultaneously do field work. I got my doctorate. in vet school, and it’s like life has come full circle. I was trained there, and now I put myself at the service of the students and the institution that trained me. It’s nice to be able to give back. »

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