Student research news
Research and science communication articles written by undergraduate summer research students at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM).
USask scientists study space and sickness in feedlot cattle
As researchers at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) and Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) study the impact of stocking density and feed bunk space allowance on the health of beef cattle, they’re pondering the age-old question: “Is less really more?”
Why studying microbiology will make me a better veterinarian
When I tell people that I spent a summer working with bacteria rather than animals, I get puzzled looks and they often ask, “What does that have to do with being a vet?” The answer is simple: everything.
Collaborative research team teases out significance of stressors found in pigs’ hair
Stress. We’ve all been there — those moments of acute stress when we’re stuck in traffic or those periods of chronic stress when life seems to chuck all the lemons at us. But did you know that all of this stress information gets stored in your hair?
USask researchers devise strategies for faster disease detection in honey bees
While the rise in antimicrobial resistant pathogens is an issue affecting all species, a team of University of Saskatchewan (USask) researchers are focusing their efforts on honey bees — investigating how they can reduce the use of antibiotic drugs for managing disease in the pollinator species.
Llamas and alpacas: potential animal models for reproductive research?
A study at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) promises not only to provide important information about llama and alpaca reproduction but also to determine if the camelid species could become animal models for reproductive research.
Blood on the double
Dogs can donate life-saving blood to other dogs, just like people can give blood to their fellow humans. But veterinarians are still unsure about the best way to deliver blood from dog donors to the canine patients that urgently need it.
USask researchers probe drug’s potential ability to block pre-term labour
How can we decrease the occurrence of pre-term births in women? Can a cancer research drug help us find a solution? These are questions facing reproductive scientist Dr. Daniel MacPhee (PhD) and his research team at the University of Saskatchewan (USask).
USask research team explore protein’s role in herpesvirus infections
Herpesviruses are nothing new, but what’s surprising are their sheer number: 130 species of herpesviruses infect and cause disease in a wide variety of species — including people.
Range to research: how ranch lessons aid my research job
At first glance, sitting on the back of a horse watching cattle graze seems a whole world apart from extracting DNA at a pristine lab bench. But my experiences in research and ranching have shown me that both disciplines share common principles.
Delving deeper into swine dysentery
As you wander down the meat aisle and view the variety of available pork cuts, you’re probably not thinking about the people and the work behind getting the meat to the supermarket.
The importance of iodine in pregnant mares’ diets
When it comes to bringing new horses into the world, mare care and particularly mare nutrition should be a top priority for horse owners — a mother’s diet during pregnancy can drastically impact the health of her foal.
He or she: what will it be?
“Boy or girl?” Expectant mothers hear that question a lot, and thanks to ultrasound technology, many human parents have the option of finding out the answer long before their baby is born.
Melanoma and grey horses
Anyone who has owned a grey horse knows the struggle of trying to keep their equine friend clean and to prevent them from becoming a shade of brown.
Equine abortions: Chlamydia a culprit?
When veterinarian Dr. Madison Ricard came to the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) for her anatomic pathology residency program in 2020, she had no idea that her research would potentially have an impact on the veterinary profession and the horse industry at large.
How much is enough? Public knowledge and the microbial world
As a recent University of Saskatchewan (USask) graduate who just completed my animal bioscience degree, I’ve had my eyes opened to so many things that I’d never imagined would interest me.
Researchers probe protein’s role as lung’s first line of defence
Having spent more than two years in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic, scientists and the public have learned a great deal more about respiratory infections and the lung complications that can result from having one.
Blueberry-pollinating bees at risk of developing deadly disease
Honey bees are excellent pollinators for flowering crops, and they’ve greatly benefited Canada’s blueberry growers as well as the country’s economy — Canada is a major exporter of the popular blue fruit.
Fruit fly research could lead to final frontier
By using fruit flies as their model organism, Dr. Adelaine Leung and her team at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) are contributing vital knowledge to a fascinating research story that began more than 120 years ago.
Let's talk about mastitis
“Why won’t they listen?” It’s a complaint we can all relate to. Whether you’re an animal owner or a veterinarian, you have probably found yourself questioning why the person on the other side of a conversation isn’t reacting the way you had expected.
What a swine flu vaccine can teach us
Wary of the COVID-19 vaccine? Well, eat some pork and relax. Scientists have been whipping up vaccines in short order for decades, and the fact you can still enjoy your morning bacon is proof that these vaccine products are safe and effective.
Time is money: rapid diagnostic testing for bovine respiratory disease
A multidisciplinary research team is working to develop rapid genomic testing methods that will change the way feedlots make decisions about antimicrobial use and ultimately improve antimicrobial stewardship.
Canine patients hold key to new bone cancer therapies for dogs and people
You share more things in common with your dog than you think, and these similarities are the focus of research at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) that’s aimed at investigating osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer found in dogs and humans.
Dr. Claire Card has spent much of her career helping mares get pregnant, but for some horses and their owners, it’s complicated.
USask researchers probe Lyme disease ecology
A mysterious disease is creeping its way into Saskatchewan, and its diagnosis remains complicated and unstandardized. Lyme disease, a tick-borne bacterial infection, is spreading westwards and northwards into the province of Saskatchewan.
Understanding why expecting parents give birth unexpectedly early
Birth occurring before 37 weeks of pregnancy is a leading cause of newborn death, disability and developmental delays in humans.
On the trail of the B.C. bat mortality mystery
British Columbia is losing its bats. Half of the 16 bat species in the province are either vulnerable or threatened, and ecologists and farmers alike worry about how the loss of these voracious pest control experts will affect our natural and agricultural systems.
Research collaboration yields promising biopsy tool for diagnosing lung disease
About 98 out of 100,000 human patients annually suffer from interstitial lung disease, a broad collection of several lung diseases that manifest as inflammation and scarring of lung tissue and a loss of lung function.
A day in the life: working in bison reproduction
As the sun rises, Eric and Miranda Zwiefelhofer gear up for another exciting day of work.
Putting laminitis on ice
A Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) research team is gathering information for the development of a new device for cryotherapy (extreme cold therapy) — one of the few treatments available for the painful equine disease known as laminitis.
A new way to look at dental disease
Everyone knows that going to the dentist is an important part of keeping our teeth healthy, but did you know that your pets also need regular dental checkups?
Bison calves leading the way to biobank creation
The wood and plains bison are majestic creatures weighing 1,200 pounds, but their conservation could depend on single-celled gametes (reproductive cells) that are measured in microns.
Honey bee disease gains ground in B.C. and Saskatchewan
One of the latest projects in the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) honey bee health research lab is a tale of two provinces.
Five ways to help people care about science
Last summer, I learned to not be such a scientist. As a veterinary student and biologist, I have spent the last decade working in science and trying to make a tiny contribution to what is known about the world.
USask scientists probe tick-borne Lyme disease
While most people dread dealing with ticks, University of Saskatchewan (USask) researchers are keen to work with the parasite as they investigate the host-pathogen system responsible for Lyme disease in Canada.
Researchers’ success in replicating poultry disease key to prevention
A research team at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) is working to develop new prevention and control strategies for necrotic enteritis, a devastating disease that causes enormous financial losses for poultry producers.
Uptick in Canada’s Lyme disease cases: why we should care
While human health workers are caring for people infected with the novel coronavirus, veterinary researchers are helping to protect the public from illnesses spread by another health threat: ticks.
Studying e-cigarettes' risk to reproductive health
E-cigarette companies spent more than $9 billion in marketing last year to promote their product as a healthy alternative to conventional cigarettes for smokers, but University of Saskatchewan (USask) scientist Dr. Ali Honaramooz (DVM, PhD) is not convinced.
Can delivery mode affect babies’ early gut microbiome?
A team of University of Saskatchewan (USask) researchers is studying how the mode of delivery influences a baby’s early gut microbiome — the huge community of bacteria and fungi that lives inside our gastrointestinal tracts.
Decision tool will help protect beef herds from Johne’s disease
With the help of a new risk assessment tool, researchers at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) may be able to help beef cattle producers slow down the spread of Johne’s disease among their herds.
Habitat loss creates stress for honey bees
While society is coping with the stress related to a pandemic, honey bees and other pollinators are going through another problem — the stress associated with habitat loss.
Research aims to improve accuracy of rapid diagnostic tools
Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) is a disease in cattle that accounts for 40 to 75 per cent of animal deaths in some beef cattle feedlots. While there are many causes of BRD, it’s often associated with infection by the bacterium Mannheimia haemolytica (M. haemolytica).
European foulbrood 'disease of opportunity'
Although pesticides are important for increasing crop production, they may be interfering with the immunity of an important animal pollinator — the honey bee.
Bats’ immune systems key to understanding global epidemic diseases
Why is it that bats don’t get sick when infected with viruses that can be deadly in humans?
Reversing the irreversible: a second chance with fertility
Veterinary researchers at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) have recently unveiled a new field of study that’s focused on reversing and safeguarding against the loss of fertility in young males.
Building a better influenza vaccine for pigs
When people contract influenza A virus — commonly known as “the flu” — the symptoms start within 24 hours and peak by 48 hours of infection. People have a few days of sickness that can include fever, runny nose, eye inflammation, loss of appetite and a lack of energy as well as coughing that can last two weeks.
Windows into local waters
The wet sand squishes beneath my gumboots as I walk along a beach near Tofino, on the western edge of Vancouver Island, B.C. Last night’s storm has strewn bull kelp and broken shells across the beach. It has also landed a true ocean oddity: a mermaid’s purse.
New drug protocol may reduce pain during castration
A Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) researcher and his team are looking into new options for pain management during castration of beef calves.
Drug could offer single-shot solution to breeding issues
Breeding horses is often a numbers game: owners and veterinarians alike want improved success rates at lower costs, but some mares have more trouble than others.
New reproductive tool may help meet consumer demand for ‘natural’ food
Today’s consumers want more from their food, and the beef and dairy industries are constantly striving to meet these demands. As more companies market their food as “natural” — raised without additional use of hormones, steroids, and antibiotics — concerns regarding steroid use in food production have multiplied.
Every breath we take
Our lungs face a never-ending battle. With every breath, we inhale millions of airborne particles, including many that are potentially harmful. Our bodies must be prepared to defend us from these invaders.
Tiny parasite could lead to big health problems
A tiny parasite with a long name has the potential to cause some very big health problems for Canadians and their pets in the future.