INSPIRE Research Forum

INSPIRE Research Forum

Image of the INSPIRE logo

The first INSPIRE Research Forum was held on Wednesday 22 February 2017, from 2.00pm - 5:30pm in the Mary Stewart Building, Garscube Campus.

Prize winners, with Dr Chris Loughrey, INSPIRE Champion

INSPIRE Research Forum Prizewinners

(L-R) Andrew Bettenhausen (undergraduate poster prize); Ciara McKay (1st, Governors & Mitchell of Cranstonhill Prize), Dr Chris Loughrey (INSPIRE Champion), Lucy Giles (2nd, Governors & Mitchell of Cranstonhill Prize), Rob Coultous (postgraduate poster prize).  Not pictured, Alice Sloan (3rd, Governors & Mitchell of Cranstonhill Prize).

INSPIRE Research Forum

Wednesday the 22nd of February saw the INSPIRE Research Forum, Governors and Mitchell prizes run in the Mary Stewart seminar room. The Governors and Mitchell of Cranstonhill prizes run annually, providing undergraduate students the opportunity to present the research they had performed over summer placements to their peers. This year however, as a result of the School’s INSPIRE award, the event was broadened and revamped. The newly christened INSPIRE Research Forum would also feature more senior, inspirational speakers, talks from PhD students and a large boost in prize money available to the undergraduates.

The afternoon started off with an opening presentation from Professor David Argyle, Head of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies. In a jovial and engaging talk the audience was treated to topics ranging from cutting edge cancer research to what it was like sharing a flat with a postgraduate Dom Mellor.

Following that, it was time for the undergraduate presentations. Nine students discussed the research they had undertaken the previous summer across the School of Veterinary Medicine. The quality of the talks was outstanding throughout, and the breadth of research performed was equally impressive. Subjects from across the veterinary profession were covered, from investigating the genetics behind fractures in thoroughbreds to a survey of bovine reproductive disease to canine pseudopregnancy, all of them well prepared and interesting.

Following a coffee break and an opportunity to look through the poster presentations displayed in the Mary Stewart building, the forum moved on to the postgraduate talks. Eleonora Melzi discussed her research at the Centre of Virus Research, and Rob Coultous described his journey from first opinion vet to PhD student. Rob then stayed on stage as part of the team that had won the recent “Science Den” (a CMVLS wide, Dragons Den style competition to pick the best biological tool). Their presentation, ‘Parasites, Ponies and Plastic Chips’ - describing a patient side diagnostic test, demonstrated how research at the University has the potential to revolutionise clinical practise.

The Research Forum was rounded off by a presentation from Professor Sarah Cleveland. Describing the OneHealth concept through her own career studying the epidemiology of rabies in sub-Saharan Africa was fascinating, and showed the relevance of veterinary research to human medicine.

At this point all that was left was to announce the winners of the hotly contested undergraduate poster and presentation prizes. Andrew Bettenhausen won the Mitchell Prize for his poster entitled ‘The prevalence and clinical consequences of trypanosomiasis in working equids from the Gambia’. Ciara McKay’s talk on her research into the effects of post-partum disease on dairy cow fertility scooped her first in the Mitchell Prize, with Lucy Giles’ retrospective study on ruminant neurological disorders and Alice Sloan’s assessment of a point-of-care haemoglobinometer coming second and third respectively. In an incredibly strong field, many other excellent presentations were unlucky to miss out.

Overall, the Research Forum’s medley of talks, from undergraduate to specialist, highlighted the opportunities that research offers at all stages of a veterinary career. It also showed students the scale and importance of research carried out by the Vet School, something they may not have been aware of previously. As the INSPIRE scheme pushes to increase veterinary undergraduate interest in research, the Research Forum has undoubtedly established itself as a key part of that aim.

INSPIRE Research Forum feedback summaries

  • The Inspire research forum gave me a new insight into the importance of veterinary research. The wide breadth of topics and speakers illustrated just how interesting, varied and enjoyable a career in research could be.

    I particularly enjoyed listening to a number of esteemed veterinary professionals explain to us their career paths and how they got to where they are now. It was incredibly interesting and inspiring to hear the impact that they have had not only in the veterinary field, especially in terms of clinical advancements, but also on a greater global setting. The passion with which they spoke has shown me that research isn’t all about intelligence but actually this area of the profession just requires keen, interested and experienced veterinary surgeons.

    I’ve always had a keen interest in research but felt that I wouldn’t want to choose it as a career over working as a veterinary practitioner. However, following my afternoon at the Inspire forum I now realise this is not a choice I have to make, and in fact these two sides of the profession complement each other. I am excited to see where the future takes me in my career and feel that research is a field I would definitely be interested in exploring.

Ciara McKay, BVMS 4

  • It was a privilege to present my research at the recent Inspire Research conference at GUVS. The challenge of presenting six weeks’ work in eight minutes really helped me to consolidate what I gained from my project, which was surprisingly rewarding to reflect on. Having never presented formally before, it was quite daunting standing up in front of a room of senior clinicians, but luckily I found that after the first minute or two I started to really enjoy myself. Watching the other students present and hearing about the range of projects was fantastic; I was so happy that I wasn’t the only person there who had never stepped into a lab. I found the discussions of range of options for clinical research very interesting, as I’ve never envisioned myself working exclusively in a lab but have always been interested in research and further education.

    The conference has genuinely inspired me to undertake research after graduation. Hearing from practicing clinicians about their pathway into research reassured me that there is no one “correct” route.  It was also reassuring how rewarding the speakers have found careers in research. I came away understanding that there is a real need for clinically experienced veterinary practitioners to go into research.

Lucy Giles, BVMS 5

  • I really enjoyed the Inspire research forum, and appreciated the perspectives that were given about a career in research.  The thing that resonated with me the most was how a few people discussed having a balance between clinical work and research, and that the door to clinical practice doesn't have to close when you get involved in veterinary research—the two can co-exist peacefully.  The talk from the current PhD student was also useful, since I've never considered a PhD before, but he made it seem very accessible, as well as addressing funding and how to approach those challenges.  I really enjoyed seeing all of the other student projects, which covered such a wide variety of areas.  It was a good reminder of just how broad the veterinary field is—there's always something new to get involved in.  I hope to pursue a career in which I am able to continue to do clinical research, if not exclusively, than alongside clinical practice.

Alice Sloan, BVMS 4

  • 'The INSPIRE day was an exciting look at the myriad of fields and opportunities available to vets wanting to integrate research into their career. As current PhD student, and a vet returning from practice, I was given the chance to describe my own positive experiences of academic research to the next cohort of veterinary surgeons. Further talks from established figures gave me positive encouragement for my own research career, and the interesting and innovative projects presented by the current undergraduates strengthened my optimism for the future of veterinary research.

    I would like to thank the organisers of the event for giving me the opportunity to present both my work and my personal experiences. Such events are essential in promoting awareness of career possibilities to the next generation, helping to address the current deficit of vets in research. I very much enjoyed the day, and have returned to my own work with renewed inspiration for the future.'

Robert Coultous BVSc MSc MRCVS
HBLB Research Scholar

  • The INSPIRE research forum was a great opportunity to see other projects have been in the works on campus.  Indeed, there was a diverse array of interesting research being carried out here at the University of Glasgow.  The opportunity to gather with others involved in research and learn about the intricacies of their projects was an engaging experience.  As research subjects ranged in diversity from assessing upper airway noises in the horse to current advancements being made with the Bluetongue virus, the afternoon perfectly demonstrated just how many different paths there are in veterinary research.

    The similarity that I noticed from all the veterinary students, PhD candidates, and career researchers alike was they all seemed to care about their projects with an immense sense of altruism.  It was apparent that the interests of the animals in the studies were of great concern to the researchers.  It was also apparent that every one of the projects presented exemplified just how important veterinary research is to human-animal co-wellbeing, aka One Health.  The closing presentation of the evening, given by Professor Sarah Cleaveland, clearly illustrated the importance of the One Health topic and how much it influenced her time in research.

    I am not convinced at the moment that a career in research is the thing for me.  I do, however, appreciate the current veterinary community partaking in it.  As PhD candidate Rob Coultous demonstrated during his talk, just because your veterinary career doesn’t start with research in mind doesn’t mean you won’t find yourself there further on down the road.

Andrew Bettenhausen, BVMS 4