Over the week of October 30, Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine’s (Ross Vet) campus hosted its annual Research Week event. Under the theme of “One Health, One Welfare,” dozens of students, in conjunction with their faculty project leaders, put on a showcase of their ongoing research projects in a weeklong celebration of One Health and the veterinary impact to global healthcare.
The celebration of research and One Health was joined by Temple Grandin, PhD, a world-renowned spokesperson for autism, humane livestock handling, and animal behavior. In recorded sessions with Ross Vet leaders and Kathryn Crozier, Class of ‘26, representing the students, Dr. Grandin delivered keynote addresses to attendees and spoke directly to student-submitted inquiries in a question-and-answer session on Wednesday, November 1.
“Get out and try lots of stuff. You are the leaders of tomorrow and we need to find practical solutions to problems out in the field,” Dr. Grandin encouraged the students in her keynote recording.
Questions from students covered a range of topics, from Dr. Grandin’s advice to veterinary students with autism or who are neurodiverse, advancements for people with disabilities in healthcare careers, and Dr. Grandin’s career of advocacy in veterinary medicine.
Three Minutes on the Clock, One Slide on the Screen
Student presentations kicked off on Wednesday morning with the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, a crowd favorite where presenters have three minutes and a single, static slide, to present compelling and engaging talks on their research topic. Ten students from Ross Vet’s Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) and Master of Science by Research (MSc) programs volunteered for the competition.
Isabella Liberti, MSc by Research candidate, was voted the winner by a panel of faculty judges for her presentation – “Decoding the language of animals,” as part of her research project that analyzes various methods of reinforcement training in donkeys and their emotional responses.
“It was a very proud and surreal moment that I got recognized and that my message was understood. One of the main goals of the Three Minute Thesis is finding a middle ground between something as dense as research and connecting it with the public audience, and that was what I was most proud that I was able to take this complicated stuff and make it so everyone can connect to the work we're doing," Liberti said.
Additionally, the live audience was given an opportunity to present their own people’s choice award: Pavly Fayek, Class of ‘26, was awarded both the people’s choice and runner-up award by the official panelists for his presentation - “Got Milk? Talking Dairy, Fertility, and Bacteria.”
For their winning presentations, Liberti and Fayek will receive sponsorship to attend a scientific conference of their choosing in 2024.
The Four R’s: Rescue, Rehabilitation, Release, and Research
Research Week’s big events concluded on Thursday with the Evening Symposium where Dr. Grandin once again joined via recorded conversation and several panel discussions were held framed around the topic of the Four R’s: Rescue, Rehabilitation, Release, and Research.
In a panel led by Sean Callanan, MVB, CertVR, PhD, FRCPath, DipIECVP, FRCVS, dean of Ross Vet, leaders from student organizations and their faculty advisors gathered on stage to share about the ongoing work of student groups with various animal species at Ross Vet and in St. Kitts and Nevis communities.
“We want to move further along in this concept of One Health, One Welfare. When you dig deeper into what's going on with our student clubs here, it's all One Health-related activities. There are environmental issues, human elements, and the animals themselves and their welfare concerns,” Dr. Callanan remarked before turning the conversation over to the panelists.
Shelter Medicine Club, RUSVM VIDA, Feral Cat Project, Behavioral Science Foundation, Zoo Exotics and Wildlife Club, St. Kitts Sea Turtle Monitoring Network, and Donkey Club were all featured participants in the Evening Symposium. Each group shed light on the transformative journey of rescue, rehabilitation, release, and research in dogs, cats, monkeys, sea turtles, and horses, and how each species has a profound impact in human lives and animal welfare.
Following the panels, winners were recognized from a group of 20 students who displayed research posters on campus throughout the week. Liam Kitson, Class of ‘25, was selected as winner of the poster competition for his work titled “Unraveling the blood microbiome in health and febrile domestic cats.” Elsie Washburn, Class of ‘25 and last year’s 3MT winner, once again had her research recognized as the poster competition runner-up — “Determining deliberate practice time needed to perform direct and indirect fundoscopy on canine simulation models.”