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WCVM graduate student Miranda Zwiefelhofer received recognition for her research poster as well as her work as a PhD student. Photo: Christina Weese.

Grad students compete in virtual poster competition

In the middle of a global pandemic, the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) found a virtual way to celebrate the research work of its graduate students.

Organizers of the college’s annual graduate student poster day, which was originally scheduled for March 26, quickly switched the event to an online competition once it became clear that the University of Saskatchewan (USask) campus would close to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Instead of hanging their posters on bulletin boards, the college’s graduate students submitted their research posters as PDF files to the WCVM’s Research and Graduate Studies Office. Then a group of WCVM judges used online tools to learn more about graduate students’ research and to quiz them about their findings.

Dr. Liz Snead, associate dean of research and graduate studies at the WCVM, announced the award recipients on April 6 after tallying up the judges’ results. First-place recipients took home $200 while second- and third-place recipients received $150 and $100, respectively.  

“I am so grateful to all the participating graduate students for being such troopers in this crazy time, and I am also profoundly grateful to all the judges who made this possible,” wrote Snead in a college-wide email message.

As well, Snead applauded the efforts of her fellow organizing committee members — Drs. Susan Detmer, Tony Ruzzini, Monique Mayer and Lynn Weber — who all pitched in to ensure the event was a success.

In addition to the annual graduate poster competition, the college’s Graduate Students' Association (GSA) announced the winners of its annual awards program. Three graduate students — Miranda Zwiefelhofer along with Drs. Ajaypal Kahlon and Michelle Tucker — received awards of merit. Dr. Cindy Shmon, a professor in the WCVM’s Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, was also recognized with this year’s GSA Supervisor Award.   

Clinical Sciences and Diagnostics

  • First place: Parker Wilcox, Small Animal Clinical Sciences (supervisor: Dr. Stephanie Osinchuk). Research title: “Optical coherence tomography evaluation of indolent ulcers and morphologic features associated with successful debridement.”
  • Second place: Jensen Cherewyk, Veterinary Biomedical Sciences (supervisors: Drs. Barry Blakley and Ahmad Al-Dissi). Research title: “Assessment of the vasoactive effects of the S-epimers of ergot alkaloids in vitro.”
  • Third place: Maodong Zhang, Veterinary Pathology (supervisors: Yanyun Huang and Janet Hill). Research title: “Assessment of metagenomics sequencing and qPCR for detection of influenza D virus in bovine respiratory tract samples.”

Reproductive biology and behaviour

  • First place: Pauline Guidoni, Large Animal Clinical Sciences (supervisor: Dr. John Harding). Research title: “Placental tight junction integrity in PRRSV-2 infected fetuses.”
  • Second place (tie): Tat-Chuan Cahm, Veterinary Biomedical Sciences (supervisor: Dr. Ali Honaramooz). Research title: “Building a testis organoid in vitro using neonatal pig testis cells.”
  • Second place (tie): Miranda Zwiefelhofer, Veterinary Biomedical Sciences (supervisor: Dr. Gregg Adams). Research title: “Strategies for oocyte collection procedures in free-roaming bison herds.”
  • Third place: Fahar Ibitsham, Veterinary Biomedical Sciences (supervisor: Dr. Ali Honaramooz). Research title: “Development of an organ culture system for the long-term in vitro maintenance of pig testicular tissue architecture and viability.”

Microbiology

  • First place: Eranga De Seram, Large Animal Clinical Sciences (supervisor: Dr. Fabienne Uehlinger). Research title: “Gastrointestinal nematode fecal egg shedding intensity, prevalence and predominant species in western Canadian cow-calf operations.”
  • Second place: Kathyana Deeyagahage, Veterinary Microbiology (supervisor: Dr. Tony Ruzzini). Research title: “Screening and discovery of a virulence factor with antibacterial and antifungal activity.”
  • Third place: Nirajan Niroula, Veterinary Microbiology (supervisor: Dr. Jeffrey Chen). Research title: “Experimental challenge of pigs with Mycobacterium bovis and M. tuberculosis: toward a model of human tuberculosis.”

WCVM GSA Awards

  • WCVM Graduate Student Award (PhD program): Miranda Zwiefelhofer, Veterinary Biomedical Sciences (supervisor: Dr. Gregg Adams).
  • WCVM Graduate Student Award (master’s program): Dr. Ajaypal Kahlon, Veterinary Pathology (supervisor: Dr. Catherine Soos)
  • WCVM Graduate Student Award (clinical) Dr. Michelle Tucker, Large Animal Clinical Sciences (supervisor: Dr. James Carmalt)
  • WCVM Graduate Supervisor Award: Dr. Cindy Shmon, Small Animal Clinical Sciences
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