Graduates of the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) aren’t the only trainees celebrating during the University of Saskatchewan (USask) Spring Convocation.
A group of graduate students and clinical interns based at the WCVM are receiving their degrees and certificates during the university’s convocation ceremonies on June 7.
Nine students will receive their Master of Science (MSc) degrees, and six students will earn Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees. As well, three veterinarians will receive graduate certificates for completing their one-year programs as clinical small animal rotating interns or specialty veterinary interns in the WCVM Veterinary Medical Centre.
The convocation ceremony for the WCVM and USask College of Agriculture and Bioresources will commence at 2 p.m. on Wed., June 7.
Department of Veterinary Microbiology
Subash Chapagain, MSc program
Supervisor: Dr. Uladzimir Karniychuk
Thesis title: “Towards a better understanding of vector-free Japanese encephalitis virus transmission.”
Snapshot: Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) is a mosquito-borne virus that’s prevalent in Asia. The virus is a common cause of encephalitis in humans. There are risks of JEV being introduced to the Americas through pigs, wild boars and insect vectors — Culex mosquitoes. In his program, Chapagain studied whether JEV is present in the female lower reproductive tract and can be caused by sexual transmission in humans. He found that JEV targets the vaginal epithelium (inner lining of the vagina) and has the potential for sexual transmission in humans.
Shubham Dutta, MSc program
Supervisors: Drs. Emily Jenkins and Vikram Misra
Thesis title: “Development of novel competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays to detect SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies in animals.”
Snapshot: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the COVID-19-causing virus and a zoonotic pathogen. There is concern about the virus spreading to wildlife species, affecting future infection of humans and other animals. In his research, Dutta looked at developing a method to measure the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in wildlife species in which other tests are not used. Dutta’s thesis found that this method can be valuable in investigating SARS-CoV-2 in multiple species.
Qingyi Ren, MSc program
Supervisor: Dr. Janet Hill
Thesis title: “Characterization of the salivary microbiome in COVID-19 infection and development of a cpn60 classifier.”
Snapshot: There are few studies about the salivary microbiome’s (bacteria in salivary glands) relationship with SARS-CoV-2, the COVID-19-causing virus. In this study, researchers look at if there are differences in the salivary microbiomes of people who are SARS-CoV-2 positive and people who are SARS-CoV-2 negative using a classification device. Researchers found differences between SARS-CoV-2 positive and negative groups on a population scale. The study serves as a foundation for future studies regarding the relationship of SARS-CoV-2 with oral microbiota.
Pashupati Bhandari, PhD program
Supervisor: Dr. Janet Hill
Thesis title: “Elucidating the mechanisms of extracellular glycogen utilization in Gardnerella spp.”
Snapshot: In his project, Bhandari explored how Gardnerella species (Gardnerella spp.), which is associated with bacterial vaginosis, interacts with glycogen — a form of energy storage that can be found in the vagina. Understanding the characteristics of disease-causing Gardnerella spp. in the vaginal microbiome can help to improve women’s health diagnostics and identify high-risk microbiomes.
Kayla Buhler, PhD program
Supervisor: Dr. Emily Jenkins
Thesis title: “Wildlife reservoirs and sentinels for vector-borne zoonoses in northern Canada.”
Snapshot: Warming temperatures due to climate change have an impact on wildlife in the Canadian Arctic. This study explores the prevalence of three vector-borne pathogens in northern Canadian wildlife — California serogroup viruses (CSV), Bartonella spp. and Francisella tularensis bacteria. Buhler’s research explored disease ecology in the Canadian Arctic and how new health issues arise in wildlife species due to changing temperatures.
Kylee Drever, PhD program
Supervisor: Dr. Jeffrey Chen
Thesis title (embargoed): “Novel insights into the regulation of the mycobacterium tuberculosis Type-VII secretion system ESX-1.”
Rankodthde Mudiyanselage Dinesh Hirantha Wellawa, PhD program
Supervisor: Dr. Wolfgang Koester
Thesis title: “Characterizing the role of putative virulence genes associated with infection, colonization and persistence of Salmonella enteritis in chicken using a bioluminescent reporter.”
Snapshot: Salmonella enteritidis (SEn) is a common cause of gastroenteritis in humans. Wellawa studied the early stages of infection in day-old chickens using bioluminescent imaging (BLI) — a method for analyzing biological processes. The study found an indication of interaction between Salmonella and chickens in environments with low iron supply — showing a need for alternatives to importing iron as an essential element.
Temitope Kolapo, PhD program
Supervisor: Dr. Emily Jenkins
Thesis title: “Molecular epidemiology and diagnostics for Echinococcus multilocularis in canid definitive and intermediate hosts
Snapshot: Kolapo’s research focused on improving the diagnosis of Echinococcus multilocularis (E. multilocularis), a parasite that causes alveolar echinococcosis (AE) in humans, dogs and rodents. Kolapo’s research found that the Canadian Arctic is vulnerable to the introduction of European and Asian strains of AE. She used diagnostic tools for large-scale preventive studies of E. multilocularis in canids to aid in the formulation of control and prevention policies.
Department of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences
Atefeh Nasri, PhD program
Supervisor: Dr. Suraj Unniappan
Thesis title (embargoed): “Regulation of metabolism and stress hormones by nucleobindin-derived bioactive peptides nesfatin-1 and nesfatin-1-like peptide.”
Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences
Evelyn Harris, MSc program
Supervisor: Dr. Behzad Toosi
Thesis title (embargoed): “A comparative study of the role EphA2 performs in canine and human osteosarcoma.”
Sally Sukut, MSc program
Supervisor: Drs. Monique Mayer and Brent Burbridge
Thesis title (embargoed): “Innovative teaching strategies in undergraduate veterinary medical imaging education.”
Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences
Jayce Fossen, MSc program
Supervisor: Dr. Cheryl Waldner
Thesis title: “Antimicrobial use and resistance in Canadian cow-calf herds”
Snapshot: Fossen’s work addressed the limited amount of research regarding antimicrobial use in cow-calf herds by investigating antimicrobial use practices on Canadian cow-calf operations while exploring antimicrobial resistance of bacteria in cattle that also affects human health. Further studies are necessary to better understand the prevalence of resistance of different bacteria in cow-calf herds.
Karen Pimentel, MSc program
Supervisor: Dr. Steve Manning
Research focus: investigation of the equine temporomandibular joint (TMJ).
Navgeet Singh, MSc program
Supervisor: Dr. Dinesh Dadarwal
Thesis title: “Feasibility study on bovine fetal sexing utilizing circulatory cell-free fetal DNA in maternal peripheral blood.”
Snapshot: Singh aimed to develop a PCR method (DNA-finding technique to identify genetic changes and diseases) to determine the sex of cow fetuses during pregnancy. The study found that fresh plasma can be used for PCR-based prenatal fetal sexing. But PCR-based testing was deemed unreliable for fetal sex determination in pregnant cows. Future studies must replicate this analysis with a larger dataset to confirm these observations.
Department of Veterinary Pathology
Vasyl Shpyrka, MSc program
Supervisor: Dr. Bruce Wobeser
Thesis title: “Feline oral neoplasms: a 20-year retrospective survey and expression of amelogenin and ameloblastin in feline conventional (keratinizing) ameloblastoma and oral squamous cell carcinoma.”
Snapshot: Feline oral neoplasms (new, abnormal tissue growths in the mouth) are not extensively studied compared to similar neoplasms in dogs. Shpyrka aimed to study feline neoplasms — such as those of the oral cavity, pharynx, tongue and tonsils. He found that ameloblastoma, a non-cancerous tumour commonly developed near the jaw, is more common in cats than previously thought. The study also found that oral proteins called amelogenin and ameloblastin are unrelated to odontogenic neoplasia — a form of oral tumour.
This one-year certificate program serves as the first step in preparing candidates for clinical residency/graduate degree training programs that lead to board certification in a specific specialty – such as medical imaging or small animal surgery.
Graduate certificate in small animal rotating veterinary internship
- Ewa Krolak
- Katarzyna Paulina Kulinska
Graduate certificate in small animal specialty veterinary internship
- Liang Jun Tseng
Cat Zens of North Battleford, Sask., is a fourth-year student in the University of Regina’s School of Journalism. She is working as a research communications intern at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) for summer 2023.