There's no subsitute for hands-on experience.
Oklahoma State University veterinary student Haley Hahn would attest to that after spending 12 weeks this summer participating in a research training program at OSU's Center for Veterinary Health Sciences. Mentored by Drs. Bruce Noden (entomology and plant pathology) and João Brandão (avian, exotics and zoological medicine), Hahn studied external parasites of wild Eastern Bluebirds and other animals presented to the center’s zoological medicine service.
“Haley identified ectoparasites from wild animals that presented to the zoological medicine service at OSU,” said Brandao. “She was able to identify parasites that were never reported in this area of the country. In addition, she monitored nests of Eastern Bluebirds and is now working on identifying the parasites from those nests. Knowing the parasites that wild animals carry is helpful because it can help veterinarians to treat them, as well as identify parasites that can affect humans.”
The Summer Research Training Program (SRTP) gives first- and second-year veterinary students an opportunity to conduct a mentored research project. Mentors guide students through all project aspects including experimental design, methodology, data collection and analysis, and drawing conclusions.
“I had a phenomenal time this summer and loved every minute,” said Hahn. “I’m so grateful for this opportunity and to Dr. Noden and Dr. Brandão. I really liked keying out arthropods and learning about them. One of the lice species was 10mm long; it was crazy.”
Noden said it was fascinating to follow Hahn's progress.
"She has tenaciously worked through old identification keys to identify each sample as close to the species level as possible,” he said. “This type of systematic identification is not everyone’s cup of tea, but Haley has taken it on as a challenge and has identified some unique ectoparasites on Oklahoma wildlife. We’re looking forward to seeing what she ultimately finds.”
“Since I’ve finished keying out the ectoparasites, I’ve started another project that involves Eastern Bluebirds and the effects nest mites have on them,” added Hahn. “From my first project to the end of these 12 weeks, I’ve really grown a passion for research and hope to continue on with it.”
Haley’s poster can be found at Summer Research Training Program posters.
The Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and the Dr. Kristie Plunkett Exotic Animal Fund provided funding to support this research project.
MEDIA CONTACT: Derinda Blakeney, APR | OSU Center for Veterinary Health Sciences | 405-744-6740 | firstname.lastname@example.org