Newswise – Texas Tech University’s Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have partnered to provide mentorship opportunities and hands-on experience for students pursuing careers in research on animal diseases with the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) Laboratorian Training Program (NLTP), which is nearing the end of its first year.
Eleven students were selected from nine universities to join the one-year hybrid program. Students participating in the program’s first cohort began last spring with virtual modules and will continue through the fall 2022 semester. Students recently concluded eight weeks in Lubbock for the onsite portion of the program.
“These students gain an understanding of animal research and zoonotic diseases, build their career paths, and gain a valuable network of scientists and friends along the way,” said Christy Bratcher, associate dean for research at Davis College. and responsible for the NLTP. “I’m looking forward to next year and incorporating suggestions from current students so that the next group can have an even better experience.”
The NLTP is funded by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and strives to provide undergraduate students with the knowledge and skills necessary to prepare them for a potential career in disease research. animals within the ABPN.
“We view this program as an introduction to the field, exposing students to experiences they can’t get from their curriculum alone,” said Kesley Kohl, a Davis College graduate student who is the program coordinator. . “It’s special because students not only get research and lab experience, but they also get mentored by experts. Being able to make those connections before they enter the job market and continue their studies is unmatched.
The three-phase program began with online modules focusing on animal diseases, animal handling practices, and the collection and analysis of research samples that students completed weekly. The students then traveled to Texas Tech to work directly with faculty members and scientists from the Livestock Problems Research Unit (LIRU) of the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS). The program will end in the fall when students present their work.
“We help students gain first-hand experience with the animals we work with at our facility, especially cattle and swine,” said Jeff Carroll, research director at USDA’s LIRU in Lubbock. “Students learn things like how to care for animals and practice simple procedures for collecting and processing samples that can give them an edge early in their education.”
The goal of the program is to educate students on how the different parts of an animal investigation relate, exposing them to many aspects of a potential career path.
“It’s been a great year,” Bratcher said. “I really enjoyed getting to know the students, their backgrounds and their career goals. They are an intelligent and enthusiastic group with a bright future ahead of them. I’m so glad they were patient as we worked out all the logistics for the first year.