INSPIRE Funded Student Reports


Lindsay Rodenkirchen

The BBSRC Second National Veterinary Student Research Conference was a very important day for me. Why? Because this was one of my first opportunities in my six years of university to give a presentation on something I had worked very hard on that was not merely some project for a class. Additionally, I was invited to give this presentation since I was fortunate enough to receive funding from the BBSRC. I felt quite honoured by this since it was more than just presenting a poster. Was I nervous about giving a presentation? Of course, but who wouldn’t be at least a little jittery before speaking in front of a crowd of strangers. Though I was nervous, it was not as bad as it could have been. I do genuinely love going and speaking in front of people, and this presentation was on a project I had been working on for nearly a year and felt comfortable talking about. However, I was the second student presentation of the day. When I gave my presentation, I approached it with determination. I know I stumbled over my words and cringed as my mind would blank on what to say for a slide, but I got through it and received three questions from the audience. At the end of the day, I did not win any prizes for my presentation, but I did gain a major confidence boost in my speaking abilities, insights into veterinary research careers, and several new friends/contacts. Overall, the conference was a great learning experience and I loved seeing the wide range and variety of projects students had worked on – from rabies education in Africa to avian malaria in Scottish midges. Everyone was quite encouraging and the keynote speakers were very interesting and insightful. It was also nice being able to see a different veterinary school and meet a number of students from schools across the UK. All in all, this was a great conference and I enjoyed it immensely.

Lindsay Rodenkirchen, BVMS 4

Jen Jen Yu

INSPIRE Sharing Conference
(June 2019)

In June, as the Student INSPIRE Lead, I had the opportunity to attend the Sharing Conference in London at the Academy of Medical Science. I met students and faculty from other universities throughout the UK, and got to hear about all the different activities, events, and goals that each university are hoping to employ, successes and challenges, and future aspirations. The veterinary team from Liverpool shared their ideas on how to engage the public, incorporate research projects into mentoring schemes and taster studentships. The overarching theme to encourage medic and vet students to intermingle appears to be a challenge for all universities, and this has inspired me to plan a conference in 2020 for vets, medics, and dentists. The ideas from Plymouth-Bristol-Cardiff-Exeter shared were research conferences, taster days, Inspire Journal contributions, and other interdisciplinary events to unite the different medical disciplines. The panel discussion focused mainly on how to utilize technology in a beneficial way of coordinating students, researchers, alumni, and mentors. The rotating table discussions were particularly useful in coming up with different ideas for collaboration with other schools and departments (ie engineers and economists). I also got to hear about successful activities such as elective nights and challenges with committee involvement and continuity, and collaborations. We also discussed diversity and inclusion, particularly microaggressions, lack of diversified role models, and the under-representation and under-recognition of people of color and their achievements on university campuses. Overall, this conference gave me an insight into INSPIRE chapters nationally, and it encouraged me to try and organize collaborative and inclusive events on the University of Glasgow campus.

3rd National Veterinary Student Research Conference
(November 2019)

In November, I attended the INSPIRE-funded National Veterinary Student Research Conference at the Royal (Dick) Veterinary School. There were students from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Surrey, Cambridge, London, and other vet schools. Students presented their posters and gave short oral presentations. There were academic-researcher-veterinarians that spoke about their different life paths, professions, and current projects and research interests. I had the opportunity to discuss my poster, and my project with students and Roslin faculty. The speakers were excellent, and I got to learn so much about the unique ways that vets can get involved in research, and I particularly enjoyed the oncologist-pathologist Dean of Edinburgh, who spoke about interdisciplinary team work and success. This conference gave me the opportunity to immerse myself in a crowd of like-minded individuals with similar interests to mine, and to engage in discussions with them about research experiences and curricular work comparisons between veterinary schools.

3rd Annual Student’s One Health Conference
(November 2019)

This year, the International Veterinary Student’s Association held the Annual One Health Conference at Glasgow. It was a great success, much in thanks to the INSPIRE funding that was granted. As a part of the organizing committee, I assisted in stewarding the event, co-hosting a workshop, and attending to other organizational needs. Speakers came from near and far, as did students, with European and African attendees! It was a thought-provoking weekend, covering diverse topics from spay-neutering, zoonotic disease, antimicrobial resistance, mental health, wildlife conservation, and much, much more.

Jen Jen Yu, BVMS3


Ariel Wickers

Thanks to the funding I received from the INSPIRE award, I was able to attend the National Students Antimicrobial Resistance Conference in London. The conference focused on bringing together students and professionals from a wide range of medical fields – including veterinary medicine, human medicine, and the pharmaceutical sciences – to discuss the importance of a One Health approach in preventing Antimicrobial Resistance. This is a particularly important topic, since it has both a tremendous impact on the care we are able to provide our patients as members of the veterinary profession and significant public health implications.

I am immensely grateful that I was able to attend this conference, because not only was I able to augment the knowledge I had gained on the topic from my classes here at the vet school, but I was also able to learn more about the practical, interdisciplinary steps that are being taken by many professionals to safeguard our effective antibiotics, the challenges faced by professionals hoping to reduce their antibiotic usage, and the research currently going into alternative treatments. I was also able to have really interesting conversations and network with a variety of veterinary students and professionals, as well as professionals and students in other fields, from many different backgrounds. This helped me gain a better perspective on the experiences others have had with this topic, the differences in approach between human and veterinary medicine, and on how we might all work together to effect meaningful change in antimicrobial resistance. As part of one of these conversations, I also took part in a recorded interview hosted by a student film group that was hoping to use their skills to spread the message about the importance of these topics. It was great to see them – and the others attending the conference – so enthusiastic and passionate on the topic, and eager to put their unique skills to work in a truly “One Health” fashion. It was also really encouraging and inspiring to see so many members of the professional community – including John Fishwick, the Senior Vice President of the BVA – so active in the conversation and willing to answer questions. Overall, the experience was amazing and I am very thankful to have had this opportunity to expand my professional horizons.

Ariel Wickers, BVMS 4


First National Vet Student Research Conference,
November 2017

Kirsten commented, 'Many veterinary students who had research projects over this summer or over the last year presented on their topics at the conference. Students were funded by different organisations, though mine was funded by the BBSRC. Overall it was a really interesting learning experience and gave me a good glimpse into veterinary research careers.'

Congratulations to Kirsten Landsgaard and Sarah McMahon who won prizes at the First National Vet Student Research Conference held in Bristol on 11 November. Kirsten received a prize for her oral presentation titled: 'What's the big diff? C. difficile carriage and disease in dogs’, and Sarah received a prize for her poster titled: 'Disturbances alter the vocalisations and behaviour of broiler chickens'.

I was able to present my summer research project poster to my peers at this conference and to be evaluated by university professors at Bristol, which involved lots of interaction and communication with academics surrounding my project. This was a little scary, but a very rewarding experience - and good practice for peer evaluation within research.

This peer communication between mine and others’ projects helped us think about each project from different angles and thus helped us consider a greater range of potentials and further steps to our projects. The conference was also a great place to network with fellow vet students with similar interests and research aspirations.

The talks at the conference provided by other students were very interesting and insightful which made for a very enjoyable day. I surprisingly ended up winning the prize for the poster presentation of the conference which is nice for my confidence and also for my CV.  Overall, I think networking and practicing networking at events like this are very helpful for someone with an aspiration to do research. Submitting and presenting a project, either orally or through a poster, is amazing practice that can be carried through to real world scientific research. I found it really rounded the experience of a summer project for me, from networking, to applying for funding, to completing the research, to producing a poster and then to presenting. It is also good for adding to my CV when applying to intercalate this year.

I am grateful for the opportunity funded by INSPIRE to attend the conference and display my work. I would highly recommend it to other students that have completed or are thinking of completing a summer research project.

Sarah McMahon, BVMS 2020

RCVS Fellowship Day - October 2017

This conference in London was a good place to meet cool researchers for potential collaborations and a great opportunity to network within research circles. The talks provided by the fellows were engaging and very industry applicable. I learned many things that I can carry forward into my veterinary career from this talk. It was certainly inspiring to see the work of the fellows at RCVS, and the potential that a BVMS degree entails. The conference made me proud to be doing this degree and excited for the future possibilities.

I made many useful contacts in several different countries to discuss the topic I’m most passionate about (welfare) which has boosted my knowledge and made a clearer path for me to reach my goals. The speakers at the conference were very approachable and ready to help which was lovely.

It was great to have the opportunity, funded by the RCVS, to go to London to attend this conference. I would recommend attending conferences where possible during the course- if not for the interesting talks, the prime networking opportunities or the opportunity to travel! I stayed in London with a colleague the day after the conference and had a very good time exploring the city for the first time.

Sarah McMahon, BVMS 2020

AVTRW – September 2017

Image of vet students at the AVTRW Conference, September 2017

AVTRW Conference Reports

Image of Lauren Black presenting lecture at the AVTRW Conference in September 2017. The 71st AVTRW (2017) conference held in Surrey was a fantastic first conference to attend. The conference is aimed at students and researchers at an early stage of their career, making it a great environment to be in as a student. As an audience member, it provided a wide variety of veterinary orientated talks from speakers covering topics relating to parasitology and vaccine production, to biosecurity and animal behaviour. It was a great place to see how theory and techniques we are taught in classes applies to the real research environment. I have already found ways in which I can improve my own presenting skills by observing other presenters. Poster sessions were available which allowed more research to be understood in a different medium. Observing both oral and poster presentations have given me an idea of the standards that are required when presenting my own research in the future.

I also had the opportunity to give an oral presentation at the conference regarding research I carried out while on my MSci placement year at the Moredun Research Institute. It was a brilliant way to really test my presenting skills and practice being in a conference setting, particularly in terms of answering questions. While there are often researchers present at talks at the university, they tend to have a good background in the specific subject area, while at the conference, they were from a wider scientific background meaning that questions from thinking “outside the box” could be asked. This was challenging but it has also opened up my own mind on how to think about things differently.

On the final day, there was a workshop called “How to write a scientific paper” which was hosted by the Editor at the Veterinary Record Open journal. This was an interactive session that went through the “Do’s and Don’ts” of writing each section of a scientific paper. There were several other scientists from the AVTRW committee there to help provide a “fools guide” to each section. This information will be very valuable as I go into my last year of university in terms of assignments, and also when I get the chance to write my own scientific papers. There were plenty of opportunities to network with other students and also researchers that were present.

Before going to this conference, I was pretty sure I wanted to be involved in research; now, I am almost one hundred percent sure that it is the career I would like to pursue. With the Veterinary Bioscience degree offering such a variety of potential research fields in the veterinary area, it can sometimes be overwhelming. This conference has not made me realise which specific field I would like to specialise in, however it has helped me to rule out areas that are not for me which I would consider a positive point. I would highly recommend this conference to other students in the Vet School at all levels as it provides a conference setting that is not daunting and has such a diverse subject area that they are bound to find something that really holds their interest.

Lauren Black

From 12 September to 13 September of 2017, my colleagues and I attended the 71st Annual AVTRW conference at the University of Surrey. We were instantly recognized at registration as the group of young newcomers from Glasgow. The AVTRW seems to be a small, familiar community. Nevertheless, we were invited instantly into the fold.

The first day kicked off with lunch and networking. Then we learned about the newly formed Surrey School of Veterinary Medicine and all that it takes to create a veterinary school from scratch. Several presentations of research followed, focusing on infectious diseases and included three presentations from the University of Glasgow. During a break, our colleague Su Wei presented the poster from her summer research. More research presentations rounded out the first day of the conference. Afterwards, all the attendees met at a pub for dinner and socializing.

The next morning, a new round of researchers presented their findings, with ample opportunity for discussion and questions. Another poster session broke up the first and second half of the presentations. On day two, I was particularly interested on the presentation given by Nicola Gladden of University of Glasgow on the “Behavioral effects of post-partum pain relief in calves born with and without assistance.” She brought up the very interesting question of whether birth itself is painful for the neonate, which is something I had not considered. There was also another very interesting presentation on monkeys and ecotourism by Sharmini Paramasivam of the University of Surrey. This topic was different than the others, but spurred much discussion among the attendees.

Last, Vicki Adams of the Vet Record Open gave a class on “How to Write a Scientific Paper,” which I found immensely helpful. I especially liked hearing the other researchers talk about how they overcome the difficult portions of the paper, like abstract and introduction. Overall, the conference was an amazing opportunity to learn about the research that is being conducted in the field of veterinary science and medicine and network with the scientists at the helm.

Alysia Empert-Gallegos

The 2017 AVTRW conference held at the University of Surrey in London consisted of a few lectures and poster presentations as well as a workshop for scientist writing. The lectures given were from students, professors, and researchers on their current studies and findings. It was a great opportunity to learn about the new and upcoming research involving the veterinary field. It was a great platform in which to compare different types of studies and how they were conducted as well as discuss with the researchers themselves how they got involved in this certain area. I was particularly interested in the research conducted by Professor Roberto La Ragione which focused on antibiotic resistance in the food chain as a one health issue.

In addition to the lectures, there were poster presentations, in which you could walk around the tables and discuss with colleagues the different studies. This was a great opportunity to have a small discussion with various colleagues on further research and exploration of topics including bacterial resistance, probiotics, and parasitic control and protection. I valued being able to view and compare different types of posters and how each one differed in design and set up.

The workshop on the last day of the conference offered insight into the process of writing a scientific paper, from start to submission. Vicki Adams from the Veterinary Record Open discussed the processes of submission to a journal and started a dialog on common problems researchers run into when writing a scientific paper. Many of the lecturers examined how they might improve their papers and gave feedback on various others. Although I had no current paper to discuss, the workshop was valuable in the suggestions I was able to take from it and apply to future papers.

This conference was a valuable experience, allowing me to meet many current researchers in the veterinary field and discuss their studies. I was able gain insight on recent research, poster presentation and scientific writing.

Bridget Johnson

Attending the AVTRW Conference was an incredibly rewarding experience for me. Since I have a very limited background in the realm of research, this gave me the opportunity to see what is going on in current research and allowed me to discuss with others how one might get into research and make a career out of it. It was a smaller conference, which I found quite nice because I was able to meet and talk to almost everyone. I loved hearing how people entered the field and what interested them the most. Whether they are currently a student or have been doing it for years, the passion they expressed really inspired me. Also, watching Dr. Hugh Reid accept the Selborne Award and talk about his career was absolutely amazing. I now feel incredibly motivated to pursue a summer research project at Glasgow as an EMS placement.

Throughout the conference, I enjoyed how each session of presentations had a theme. For instance, the first session was concerned with parasitology while another session covered different aspects of public health. The wide range of topics covered at the conference in both the presentations and the posters proved how useful and important research is in both human and animal health. I was very excited when I listened to the presentations and realized how much I was able to understand because of this past year at school. The parasitology and probiotic presentations were probably my favorite. One of my favorite posters, however, covered more of a public health concern surrounding dog faeces in public places. Regarding the posters, it was nice being able to see the different ways people organized and styled them. As I walked past each of them, I remembered my own CAT task poster presentation from last year and critiqued them based on what I had learned.  Being able to act on what I have been taught in school was very encouraging. 

Overall, I found the AVTRW Conference to be a worthwhile experience and would love to go again next year!

Lindsay Rodenkirchen

Image of Su Wei Tay presenting her poster at the AVTRW Conference in September 2017.It was a great experience for students who are interested in research, and as well as budding researchers to present their work in a friendly environment and to gain confidence in their presentation skills in a professional context. It was also interesting that there were different forms of research in different fields that were presented during the conference, which challenges the traditional mindset of how research should be done.

There was a presentation on field research that was done on the monkey population in Malaysia, based on the effects of urban eco-tourism on human-monkey interactions. This particular study hit close to the heart for me, especially having had worked with monkeys prior to veterinary school and as well as being very close to home and relevant to where I come from.

Through this conference, I had the opportunity to present my summer research project which was based on histological analysis of equine ovarian follicles. It was a great chance for me to gather feedback on how I can further improve on my project and as well as get more practice in doing a scientific poster presentation. Overall, it was a positive experience for me and I received positive feedback on how I had presented my work. Additionally, it was also nice that there were a small number of posters put up so that I had adequate time to be able to peruse through all of them, and as well as ask questions about the various projects by the respective authors. It was good as I could gain their perspective on how they formulated their project and as well as further understand their thought process whilst they were carrying the project out.

It was interesting to strike up conversations with presenters and other more experienced researchers on how they got to where they are. It was rather refreshing to know that there are people who do pursue and achieve a reasonably successful career in research after veterinary school, and that we are not just limited to going into practice. This is especially relevant to me as I am currently in my final year of vet school and it is important to put some serious thought into the direction as to which my plans after vet school are headed.

Overall, I felt that this conference was a great and positive experience, and I would definitely recommend it for any veterinary student who is even remotely toying with the idea of going into research, and I am certain that anyone would gain a great deal from it.

Su Wei Tay


Image of National Students' One Health Conference banner

Adriana Pena

Funding application

a) why you want to attend (~100 words)
  • I applied to be the junior student rep for the University of Glasgow’s vet school because One Health is a concept that has always fascinated me.  I firmly believe that most things in life are interconnected and enjoy learning about how that is applied to science and the world around us.  When I learned that this conference was taking place, I was keen to get involved and attend the conference.  I am excited to hear about current research and its interdisciplinary impact.  I am interesting in meeting students from other universities that have these same interests and what they have learned in their studies.

b) how the activity will inspire veterinary undergraduates to consider a career in research (~100 words)
  • The conference will inspire veterinary undergraduates to consider a career in research because it may open their eyes to the opportunities that lie beyond becoming clinicians.  There will be talks by various different professionals across many fields about how their research impacts One Health.   I anticipate their roles in research to be inspiring and may motivate students to look into different career options.  I think it will also be exciting to hear about current projects that are impacting global health and how students might get involved.

c) how this activity/event will influence your future career aspirations (~100 words)
  • I believe the One Health conference will be an inspiring weekend.  My interests post vet school are wildlife management and how it can impact global health.  That is what has motivated me to be involved in organizing this event.  I hope to be able to meet and interact with people in different fields and see how I may be able to get involved in the future.  I look forward to networking with not only these professionals, but also other undergraduates and see if they know of any opportunities ahead.

Article in support of the Inspire Programme Funding

On November 12, 2016 the first National Students’ One Health Conference was held at the University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies. Students across different disciplines, from different universities, gathered together for a weekend of lectures covering some very interesting topics. The aim of the weekend was to exemplify how different disciplines could come together to promote One Health - the idea that human health, animal health and ecosystem health are all interlinked. The weekend started with a warm welcome from the head of the vet school. Lectures kicked off with a perfect example of the One Health concept from our first speaker - Dr Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka. Her lecture, entitled ‘Using One Health to Promote Conservation and Sustainable Development’ was both captivating and inspiring. She spoke about how in Uganda, tourists pay a lot of money to visit with gorillas in their natural habitat. This influx of money means that the locals are paid to provide protection for the gorillas by ensuring that they thrive. The locals have come to understand that without the gorillas, they lose tourism and thus income. This relationship has led to improving the local attitudes towards wildlife, less poaching, and improving hygiene where there is interaction between people and wildlife. She also spoke about how her organization, ‘Conservation through Public Health’ has gone on to open clinics for the locals that focuses on human health and family planning. Following her lecture, we heard from other professionals on topics such as climate change, antimicrobial resistance, pathogenic virus persistence, zika virus and rabies elimination programs. After lectures, we gathered together to enjoy a lovely wine reception and catered meal at the school. The food was great and the room looked really lovely. You could really tell that a lot of effort was made for us and it didn’t go unappreciated. After dessert we were invited into a seminar room for whisky and a ceilidh. Not only was it so great to meet students from other universities who were interested in global health but it was great to share a couple of dances with them as well!

On Sunday, the day continued with more lectures as well as two, hour long workshops on antimicrobial resistance and the economics of global poverty. I really found the economics lecture to be eye opening and it seemed that the whole group was in awe of the shocking truth about the global distribution of wealth and the third world debt crisis. It seems as though one approach to disease eradication is to improve environments by eliminating poverty. The only way this can happen in third world countries is to overhaul wealth exchange throughout the world. The antimicrobial resistance workshop was also great. While it’s a topic we cover quite a bit in vet school, it was interesting to see that the medical students were also well informed about the topic. We spoke about things we should consider when prescribing antibiotics and how resistance can impact the future of our industries.

Overall, the weekend was excellent. It provided a wealth of information that I believe really interested the wide range of students in attendance. The committee did an absolutely amazing job at putting it all together and I look forward to next year’s conference.

Adriana Pena

Gus Brihn

Funding application

a) why you want to attend (~100 words)
  • One Health is a growing profession and I am very interested in it as a career.  The past two months I have been doing research with Dom Mellor on One Health related topics but unfortunately I am the only student in my year (that I know of) who is interested in One Health as a career.  Therefore reason to attend this conference, along with hearing influential speakers, is to connect with other people interested in the field of One Health.  As I am approaching the end of my veterinary degree, it is important for me to network as much as possible to try and create those important initial contacts for the future.

b) how the activity will inspire veterinary undergraduates to consider a career in research (~100 words)
  • It will provide a good opportunity to hear and discuss with people active in the field of One Health from a variety of different backgrounds and provide a perspective on how one could possibly enter a career in research.  Hopefully there will be individual speakers, researching topics of interest to me, who I can then discuss potential future opportunities with.

c) how this activity/event will influence your future career aspirations (~100 words)
  • I hope to gain a better understanding of what a One Health practitioner does and hopefully that will provide insight into where I would like to take my career.  As I am nearing the end of my degree I am trying to narrow down where my interests are exactly and an event like this will hopefully aid in that process.  I am set on a career in research but where exactly that will fall I am still undecided, so to be able to hear many people talk about different areas of One Health will be beneficial.

Article in support of the Inspire Programme Funding

The National One Health Conference, which took place at the University of Edinburgh, was a great opportunity to explore the different avenues and current research taking place in the field of One Health.  The conference brought together students from all seven veterinary schools in the UK and the speakers ranged from veterinarians to academic researchers discussing a variety of topics pertaining to One Health.

A specific area of interest for me was the research and discussion about antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The chief veterinary officer spoke on the current status and debate about AMR. This was particularly of topic for me because I had been working on AMR as part of my selective rotation at Health Protection Scotland. My work focused on antimicrobial prescribing behaviors in UK, Netherlands, and Denmark. It was great to hear the CVO discuss similar issues and conclusions that I discovered in my own research. Many times while working on my own AMR research I found it could become discouraging because I sometimes felt like I was hitting a brick wall and not accomplishing what you set out to do. Therefore, hearing the CVO discuss AMR and highlight the current issues and successes was very beneficial and encouraging.

This conference also provided key networking experiences. I met many other students from around the UK studying a range of different degrees from veterinary and medical sciences to biomedical sciences. With research and public health often being the minority of taught courses and area of interest with students, it was great to be surrounded by like-minded people, all with a similar interest in One Health.

The amazing thing about One Health is that it encompasses a huge range of topics but at times I believe this can be its hindrance as well. Although each topic of discussion during the conference was very interesting in its own right, the difference with One Health compared to other specialties is that it often feels like there is a lack of cohesiveness. When compared to a conference on cardiology for example, all or most of the lectures in that conference would pertain to a common subject area whereas with One Health, there isn’t always common thread.  This is where I think One Health is still struggling to get its feet.

One Health is such broad topic and this is where conferences like this help to focus it into manageable pieces. The other great thing about this conference is that it brought together subjects which may not have normally interacted with one another. In all this conference provided me with insight into the multifaceted One Health research career and gave me a better understanding of the different possibilities available to an aspiring researcher. I would highly recommend attending this conference next year or one similar if you have any interest in One Health or research.

Gus Brihn