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  • The Merial Veterinary Scholars Program and the Merial-NIH Veterinary Scholars Symposium
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  • Exposing Veterinary Students to Biomedical Research since 1989
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For Students

Experience a summer of discovery. Find out how to participate in a one-of-a-kind program that introduces first- and second-year veterinary students to the research process.

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For Directors

Apply for funding support for your institution's research opportunities program for veterinary students.

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Student Spotlight
  • Lauren Habenicht, DVM candidate at Colorado State University, 2012 Merial Veterinary Scholar Award winner
    Lauren Habenicht, DVM candidate at Colorado State University, 2012 Merial Veterinary Scholar Award winner

    Tell us a little about where you’re from, your background, where and what you studied as an undergraduate.

    I grew up in Denver, Colorado. I started playing flute in elementary school and later attended Denver School of the Arts with the goal of becoming a professional musician. In middle and high school, I spent much of my free time playing in the Denver Young Artists Orchestra and other local ensembles. My plans changed drastically after the unexpected death of my father forced me to realize how little we really know about our own biology, specifically how the brain functions and how that sensitive biology can go awry. I started focusing a little more on science and math, a little less on music, and earned a spot at MIT as an undergraduate, where I studied brain and cognitive science and biology, eager to make new connections between these fields.

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  • Lauren Habenicht, DVM candidate at Colorado State University, 2012 Merial Veterinary Scholar Award winner
    Lauren Habenicht, DVM candidate at Colorado State University, 2012 Merial Veterinary Scholar Award winner

    What brought you to veterinary school, and what do you want to do with your degree?

    Like many of my fellow vet students, I wanted to be an "animal doctor" before I could say the word veterinarian. Of course, I also wanted to be a ballerina and an astronaut around the same time, and neither of those dreams panned out. As an undergraduate, my initial plan was to pursue an MD/PhD and work as a physician scientist. However, I rediscovered my veterinary dream while working with non-human primates in a neurophysiology lab at MIT. My passion for research and developing a better understanding of disease continues, and I plan on specializing in lab animal medicine, doing some of my own research while providing support for other research scientists.

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  • Lauren Habenicht, DVM candidate at Colorado State University, 2012 Merial Veterinary Scholar Award winner
    Lauren Habenicht, DVM candidate at Colorado State University, 2012 Merial Veterinary Scholar Award winner

    When you’re not studying or in school, how do you like to spend your time?

    Music continues to play an important role in my life, though during vet school I usually only perform for myself, my dog, and very rarely, my boyfriend. I hope to join an amateur ensemble once I begin my residency program this summer. I also enjoy running, expanding my non-veterinary knowledge (the life and art of Van Gogh has been my most recent obsession), reading, and catching up with old friends over local microbrews.

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  • Lauren Habenicht, DVM candidate at Colorado State University, 2012 Merial Veterinary Scholar Award winner
    Lauren Habenicht, DVM candidate at Colorado State University, 2012 Merial Veterinary Scholar Award winner

    Tell us something about yourself that otherwise we wouldn’t know or guess.

    I've been a sci-fi and fantasy nerd as long as I can remember. In high school, I would routinely dress up as a movie character to attend the first showings of the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings movies. If I hadn't been on call for the Hobbit's premier this year, I would have been in line in the cold, dressed as Galadriel. Again.

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  • Lauren Habenicht, DVM candidate at Colorado State University, 2012 Merial Veterinary Scholar Award winner
    Lauren Habenicht, DVM candidate at Colorado State University, 2012 Merial Veterinary Scholar Award winner

    What one tip would you give to students who will be participating in the summer research program this year?

    You will be frustrated at some point during your project -- Murphy's law rules the lab, and it's often the easy, simple things that don't work. Don't worry! This happens to everyone. Figuring out these little problems is often when the most important results of your project are discovered. Sometimes there are fascinating, scientific reasons why things aren't going as you expected.

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Welcome to the official website of the Merial Veterinary Scholars Program!

Veterinary scientists play a critical role in the discovery and development of new vaccines and pharmaceutical products for veterinary and human health. The Merial Veterinary Scholars Program provides an opportunity for veterinary schools to introduce first and second year veterinary medical students to biomedical research.

By providing a supportive environment in which students can experience research in an established laboratory, complemented by seminars and discussion groups on the scientific process, ethics, and research opportunities, the participants will gain insight into careers in biomedical research.

At the end of the program, students present their findings at a symposium, co-sponsored by Merial and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and also attend state-of-the-art lectures by research scientists working in academic, government, and private research settings. The symposium is recognized as one of the premiere national meetings for veterinary student research.

Since the foundation of the program in 1989, thousands of students have had the opportunity to experience first-hand the process of research. In 2012, we funded 184 students in 36 schools. The program includes students at every veterinary college in the US and Canada and has recently expanded to include veterinary colleges in the Netherlands and France.

Please explore the redesigned website to find out more about the Merial Veterinary Scholars Program, including links to participating schools, applications for research awards, information on other research opportunities, and a look at our annual Symposium, co-sponsored by Merial and the National Institutes of Health, where students present their research findings and mingle with leading researchers from academic, government and private research.

Roberto Alva DVM, MS, PhD
Executive Director, Merial Veterinary Scholars Program

  • Since the foundation of the program in 1989, thousands of students have had the opportunity to experience first-hand the process of research.
    Roberto Alva, Executive Director, Merial Veterinary Scholars Program
Our Numbers Prove It
  • 450

    scholars in attendance for the symposium

  • 36

    veterinary schools sponsored in 2012

  • 6

    countries represented