After working in a veterinary clinic for the past five summers, Bailey Gray, a third year student in the College of Veterinary Medicine, decided she wanted to stay in Ames for the summer.
And based on advice from a fellow CVM student, Bailey decided to try her hands at research as part of the college’s annual Summer Scholars Research Program.
The program introduces veterinary medicine students to research in a wide variety of areas including clinical medicine, animal science, public health, neuroscience and immunology. Students are teamed with faculty researchers for the summer and work on an active research project.
For Bailey, her research project focused on Johne’s Disease, a contagious, chronic and sometimes fatal infection that primarily affects the small intestine of ruminants. The project was directed by Dr. Jesse Hostetter, associate professor of veterinary pathology.
Bailey was somewhat familiar with the disease after learning about it in one of her veterinary pathology classes. But her knowledge of Johne’s disease was limited to discussions held previously in one of her veterinary pathology courses.
“It was really a fairly new concept for me,” she said. “I wanted to do something different, have a new experience, and to be a part of a research project on something I really wasn’t familiar with was an added bonus.”
Johne’s Disease is a chronic ailment that is economically devastating to the dairy industry. Currently it is impossible to determine if calves have contracted the parasite, which infects their intestinal tract of the animal, making it impossible for the animal to gain weight.
Bailey’s research study concentrated its efforts on determining why the disease occurs in cattle from ages two to five. The study required her to do some work in the research lab, something she hadn’t done previously.
“I liked it more than I had expected to,” she said. “It gave me a new perspective on what different types of careers you can have in veterinary medicine.”