Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine (Ross Vet) continued its annual tradition hosting Research Week and the celebration of International One Health Day on November 3-4, 2022. This year’s theme, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in One Health, brought together the Ross Vet community, guests, and special presenters to speak on DEI topics important to the veterinary field.
“Ross Vet is a proud leader in educating future veterinarians from underrepresented groups, but the work it takes to achieve better representation does not start or stop in one place or at one event,” said Sean Callanan, MVB, CertVR, MRCVS, PhD, FRCPath, DiplECVP, dean of Ross Vet. “Research Week brings us new conversation starters, new perspectives, and new ways of thinking about advancing DEI for ourselves and future generations.”
Events kicked off on Wednesday, November 2 with the popular 3-Minute Thesis student presentations. The four participants – Liam Kitson, Stephanie Benedict, Michelle Marinich, and Elsie Washburn – presented compelling and engaging talks on their research topics. Washburn, class of ’25, won two prizes for 1st-place selected by competition judges and the People’s Choice award voted on by live audience members.
Her presentation, titled “If time is money, should we spend or save,” centered on a canine simulation model Ross Vet uses to teach fundoscopy. “The overall goal is to increase the efficiency of the simulation model,” said Washburn. “We want to determine the minimum deliberate practice time students need with the model to master certain fundoscopic skills.”
The format of presenting research with one static slide and three minutes on the clock was initially a challenge for Washburn and her peers: “My go-to is overexplaining everything,” she said. “With the help of event organizers, Drs. Becker and Atherley, I was able to focus on the important points and present in a way that felt applicable to a wider audience. I was lucky to be able to practice with Stephanie, Liam, and Michelle, and their feedback helped turn a research project into a story.”
On winning two of the competition’s prizes, Washburn said: “Having such a successful outcome reinforced my interest in research as well as presenting. After the practice sessions and the actual event, I learned a lot about myself and the true value of practice! From our first attempts to the actual competition, [all the competitors] improved so much and that is because we all dedicated time to learning about the format, writing our scripts and then practicing as much as we could.” Kitson, class of ’25, took home the competition’s runner-up prize.
Attendees were also treated to a keynote speech by Kemba Marshall, DVM, MPH, DABVP, on unconscious bias, what it is, how it impacts the veterinary field, and what can be done to address it once it is uncovered. Dr. Marshall currently serves as director of veterinary services for the Land O’Lakes Purina Animal Nutrition Center, a 1,200-acre facility and working farm dedicated to researching vital new data in areas such as digestive physiology, animal metabolism, and growth and development. She also founded Marshall Recruiting Consortium, a job search platform to address the lack of DEI in agriculture and animal health sciences. DEI has always been a priority along Dr. Marshall’s journey – “Because I am an African-American, cisgender woman, I live my life in the perspective of someone who does not always fit the typical mold of power, position, and privilege,” said Dr. Marshall. “My lived experience is what guides my overarching interest in DEI and making it so that there’s another little girl somewhere out there reading a book about animals and picturing herself as a veterinarian. What can I do to show them you can do this? How do I position myself to be part of someone’s normal?”
Dr. Marshall continued her presentations and discussions on DEI into Research Week’s Evening Symposium on November 3, which was also the commemoration for International One Health Day. Joining Dr. Marshall as guest speakers for the Evening Symposium were Zynzelle Pemberton, St. Kitts and Nevis Alliance for Equality, Virgil Jeffers, BSc, MEd , St. Kitts and Nevis Ministry of Gender Affairs, and Maria Jose Navarrete Talloni, DVM, MPVM, PhD, assistant dean of diversity, equity, and inclusion at Ross Vet. Topics ranged from addressing injustice, achieving independence, and a look back at Ross Vet’s 40 years of history through the lens of diversity.
“One Health is part of our identity at Ross Vet,” said Dr. Callanan. “We are committed to the One Health approach in our curriculum, in our research and in our communities. As veterinary professionals, we’re already at the center of managing the animal, human, and environmental health continuum in our everyday professions.”
Learn more about research and One Health at Ross Vet here.
Watch the event livestream on our Ross Vet YouTube page here.