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Hannah Carlson, MS
The last few months have been filled with major accomplishments. In July, I finished writing my dissertation titled “Antioxidant Supplementation for Immunity, Growth, and Health of Dairy Calves” which documents the research I have been doing for the past two years. Shortly after in August, I defended my thesis, presenting my research to my committee, colleagues, and college members. While stressful, the day of my defense was filled with so much love and support from my peers. After successfully defending, I prepared for graduation by formatting and submitting my dissertation for publication. The process of formatting was tedious; however, I am so excited to see the printed copy of my work! As of last week, I can officially say I have completed my master’s program, concluding the most challenging yet rewarding two years. Thankfully, I will be sticking around a little longer, finishing up some work to get my literature review and research article published in a peer reviewed journal. I will also be submitting veterinary school applications in a few weeks, and I am so excited to begin this new chapter. While you will still find me around the lab, more sleep and a little fun will fill my schedule. Especially because it’s now fall…. My favorite time of year!
For any student considering a graduate research program who might be hesitant about the writing it entails, or even those who are about to begin writing, you can do it. Grab a large coffee (or a few), your four-legged friend if you have one (borrow one if not), and just start. The hardest part about writing is starting it, but you are documenting all YOUR hard work, let that shine. Don’t forget to celebrate the wins, big and small. Hold your people close and enjoy every moment because it goes by fast.
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Rafael Castro Vargas
After embarking on a journey through the intricate landscapes of veterinary vaccinology, the time has come! My first oral presentation was every day closer. We spend hours and hours determining the best route to present the data, much like we were finding the best routes to vaccinate, finding the correct times not to bore the audience, and formulating the best connectors to enhance the power of our presentations as we do with adjuvants, and finally, as vaccine development demands precision, learning the critical difference between the words shedding and shredding.
At first glance, the situation looked entirely out of my comfort zone, beyond the pressure and anxiety of presenting, mainly due to the linguistic boundaries I fortify myself against the tide of nerves that threatened me. In retrospect, this was an invaluable experience. Now, I know that the way to generate an adaptative response is by accepting the transformative power of facing challenges.
Also, I must especially mention that the guidance, support, and encouragement of Dr. Abuelo and all my lab mates made my presentation better as immune cells amplify each other's potential to mount a good response. Now, I’m looking forward to the next challenge, carrying a reminder that this is but the first immunization in a series of doses to mount an eloquent and seasoned response in the face of oral presentations (What a bunch of silly immunological jokes and analogies we got here).
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This summer I got to work with a student as part of the FSF summer student program. I have never taken part of a summer research program and have never directly worked with a student who was partaking in a summer research program, so I had zero expectations or assumptions going into this summer. This program includes students who are admitted or enrolled into an accredited veterinary program in the Unites States. Needless to say, the research experience of those that enroll can range from never stepping foot inside of a research laboratory to those who have spent years in research either at the undergraduate or graduate level. I’ve spent about a year and half here at the lab learning new skills and techniques, ranging from cell culture to a simple blood draw via tail stick, and now it was time to put those new skills to the test. The student we were assigned had a lot of small animal experience but never had experience with large animals, including bovine; they also had no past research experience. This meant I was provided with the unique opportunity of teaching a student a completely new set of skills in a short period of time, with my newly acquired skills. The extent of which I got to teach our student includes proper bovine management, blood collection via tail vein, proper laboratory techniques (ranging from lab safety to basic pipetting),cell isolation, cell culture, and a variety of assays using either flow cytometry or plate readers. On top of all this, I was also learning these specific assays for the first time and learning how to isolate neutrophils, as these were our target cells for the project. This provided another unique challenge of both learning and teaching at the same time.
It was slow at first as finding the best method for neutrophil isolation proved difficult, although we were able to complete our goal. Then, we moved on to validating our assays with our target cells. This also was a long project as it required us to master each assay to ensure we could replicate it later on in the project. However, by the time we finished validating our neutrophil isolation, treatment groups, and assays, the summer had come and gone. We were able to completely validate all that needed to be validated but sadly could not finish to the point of final results. I believe this summer was a learning experience for both me and our summer student as they got to learn a lot about laboratory science and research, and they certainly learned a lot about cows, whereas I got to assume a leadership role where I both taught a student entirely new skills while I also learned new skills myself. My final comments on this experience was that it was a unique learning opportunity that proved to be very difficult, as it required very quick learning and interpreting as well as a great deal of patience, but in the end it greatly expanded my skillset and leadership skills.
Picture of the lab with the summer student