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DENVER/July 13, 2018 – Morris Animal Foundation has announced the winners of its 2018 Veterinary Student Scholar Program Poster Presentation Competition. The contest is the final portion of the Foundation’s annual Veterinary Student Scholar program, where the top students from the previous summer present their research projects to the Foundation’s Small Animal Scientific Advisory Board members, who decide which cat and dog-related projects to fund.

The Veterinary Student Scholar program, which began in 2005, provides veterinary students the opportunity to become involved in mentored research that advances the health and/or welfare of companion animals, including cats, dogs and horses, as well as wildlife, during the students’ summer breaks.

Twenty students completed research projects as part of the 2017 Veterinary Student Scholar program.  Of those projects, five were selected as exemplary, based on their final report, and their students were invited to present their research in poster format during a Foundation board meeting on June 21, 2018. This provided the students the valuable opportunity to present their work and interact with experienced researchers. The top two students received cash prizes.

The highest scoring students and their posters/presentations were:

  • 1st Place: Alyssa A. Karklus, MSc, University of Wisconsin-Madison
    • Assessing admixture between historically isolated mitochondrial DNA lineages in Bornean and Sumatran orangutans (Pongo spp.) in North American zoos
  • 2nd Place: Lacey J. Ellingson, University of Minnesota
    • Association of Genetic Variants Associated with Myotonia in the Horse


The other exemplary Veterinary Student Scholars who presented were:

  • Eric Alexopoulos, University of Florida
    • Influence of Surgical Start Time on Morbidity and Mortality in Emergent Veterinary Patients
  • Adriana Alire, BSc, Washington State University
    • Evaluation of Biofilm Formation of Staphylococcus pseudintermedius from Various Sources and Associated MIC
  • Kristine Hill, BSc, Ross University
    • Histopathological Survey of Late Stage Embryonal Mortality in Leatherback Sea Turtles in St Kitts, West Indies

The Veterinary Student Scholar program was created to tackle the growing shortage of animal health scientists needed to answer complex questions impacting animal health. Dr. Mark L. Morris Sr., who established the Foundation in 1948, noted even then that “the most important element in veterinary research is people, and the Foundation can make its greatest contribution to veterinary medicine by providing opportunities for students to become skilled in veterinary research.”

The Veterinary Student Scholar program awards stipends of up to $5,000 to veterinary students who are selected by their institution to participate in clinical or basic animal health and/or welfare research. Students must devote a minimum of 50 percent of their time to the project for the equivalent of a 10- to 12-week period over the summer. The program is open to currently enrolled veterinary students in good standing from any American Veterinary Medical Association-accredited college, university or school of veterinary medicine. The next call for Veterinary Student Scholar proposals will be in early October 2018, with proposals due in early March 2019.

About Morris Animal Foundation

Morris Animal Foundation’s mission is to bridge science and resources to advance the health of animals. Founded by a veterinarian in 1948, we fund and conduct critical health studies for the benefit of all animals. Learn more at