MANHATTAN — When a federal laboratory comes to town, it fuels demand for highly educated and trained workers.
Kansas State University is helping meet that demand. Five graduate students from the College of Veterinary Medicine have been awarded National Bio and Agro-defense Facility Scientist Training Program fellowships. The awardees will receive tuition, stipends and funds for supplies and travel from a five-year, $1.6-million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
Fellowship awardees were selected for their strong interest and expertise in emerging animal diseases, diseases that infect both animals and people, or foreign animal diseases that threaten global health and food security. Once they complete the fellowship program, they are committed to working at the Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center in New York and, ultimately, the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility, or NBAF, which is under construction adjacent to the university’s Manhattan campus. The selected students have already received training in high-containment facilities that work with pathogens that will be studied at NBAF.
The fellowship recipients will be mentored by their major professors, with whom they have worked with for at least one to three years.
The following students are recipients of the NBAF Scientist Training Program fellowships:
• Kaitlynn Bradshaw, master’s student in veterinary biomedical science, Hill City. Her mentor is Sally Davis, assistant professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology.
• Chester McDowell, concurrent Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and doctoral student in diagnostic medicine and pathobiology, Corrales, New Mexico. His mentor is Juergen Richt, Regents distinguished professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology, Kansas Bioscience Authority eminent scholar and director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases.
• Laura Constance, concurrent Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and doctoral student in diagnostic medicine and pathobiology, Clyde, North Carolina. Her mentors are Bob Rowland, professor, and Megan Niederwerder, assistant professor, both of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology.
• Victoria Ayers, doctoral student in diagnostic medicine and pathobiology, Prague, Oklahoma. Her mentor is Dana Vanlandingham, associate professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology.
• Christian Cook, doctoral student in diagnostic medicine and pathobiology, Fort Worth, Texas. His mentor is Dana Vanlandingham, associate professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology.
Beth Montelone, senior associate vice president for research at Kansas State University, said the fellowships are an effort to train future research scientists, veterinarians and research technicians. The program is also available at Iowa State and Mississippi State universities.
The fellowships include a five-year $50,000 stipend for the concurrent Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and doctoral students; doctoral students receive a four-year $50,000 stipend; and master’s students receive a three-year $35,000 stipend. All students also receive health benefits and funds for materials and supplies, travel and publication costs to further their research.
Frank Blecha, associate dean for research at the College of Veterinary Medicine, said the college supports efforts to provide qualified staff for NBAF and other facilities that require agro- and biodefense expertise.
“The NBAF Scientist Training Program fellowship is a career-changing opportunity for selected students,” Blecha said. “These students planned their graduate and professional programs to gain research and diagnostic expertise to work on select agents in high-containment facilities with the hope that there would be positions available when they graduate. We are fortunate that USDA APHIS, the university and the college invested in the personnel and infrastructure that will help them reach their goals.”
The fellowship opportunities will be offered again in fiscal year 2019. More information about the program is available at k-state.edu/research/opportunities/NSTP.html.