University of Saskatchewan

September 20, 2014   

U of S Veterinary College Hosts Prominent Student Research Program

During the summer of 2005, second-year veterinary student Bryan Macbeth (far left) was a Merck-Merial veterinary scholar under the mentorship of veterinary professor Dr. David Janz (far right). Macbeth worked in the field with members of Janz's research team including PhD student Jorgelina Muscatello (second from left) and research technician Andrew Belknap (second from right).
March 30, 2006

Five students from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine and one student from another Canadian veterinary college will get first-hand experience in biomedical science this summer thanks to a prominent program designed to attract veterinarians into research careers.

The Merck-Merial Veterinary Scholar program, created in 1998, annually provides 150 first- and second-year students with first-hand experience in biomedical science. WCVM is the only Canadian institution among the 20 North American veterinary colleges represented.

“This established program raises the profiles of WCVM and the U of S in North America,” says Dr. Baljit Singh, WCVM coordinator for the program. “Students and researchers are more aware of our programs and areas of research excellence through our involvement.”

This is the second year in a row that WCVM has secured funding under the program. The $25,000 – an increase of $2,300 from last year – provides enough funding for six spots this year.

The program is funded through the Merck Company Foundation, the pharmaceutical company’s charitable organization, and Merial, another pharmaceutical firm. Host schools provide matching money to pay the students during the 16-week program.

One of this year’s scholars is Milly van der Loop, a first-year student from Marsden, Sask., who will conduct research, take leadership and communications seminars, and visit the National Institute for Nanotechnology in Edmonton, Alta.

In August, she and the others will present their research posters at the Merck-Merial Symposium at Louisiana State University, where they will meet program organizers, including program chair Dr. Gerry Hickey.

“The students’ responses indicated to us that the initiative was working in Saskatoon,” Hickey says. “That’s great to say about a program that, from our perspective, was only one year old.”

“This program has strengthened the college’s undergraduate research initiatives and encouraged faculty to provide meaningful student experiences,” says Dr. Norman Rawlings, WCVM’s associate dean of research.

One example is Dr. David Janz, who mentored Bryan Macbeth, a second-year student from Winnipeg and a 2005 Merck-Merial scholar. With Janz’s help, Macbeth developed a way to use ultrasonography to determine the reproductive health of live fish. He presented his work at the Merck-Merial symposium, and his mentor plans to submit his findings for publication in a peer-reviewed journal — every scientist’s goal.

“My philosophy is to expose students to a range of scientific techniques and experiences so they get a true, ‘behind the scenes’ look at the scientific process,” Janz says.

Quality experiences are essential in attracting veterinarians to the lab.

“We now see the Merck-Merial program as a reward for our most promising students and mentors,” Rawlings says.

WCVM is a Canadian centre for veterinary education, expertise and research. Nearly 400 undergraduate and graduate students attend the college that annually attracts more than $5 million in funding for research to address issues in animal health, food safety, public health and environmental health.



For more information, contact:


Dr. Norman Rawlings                                       Dr. Baljit Singh

Associate Dean (Research), WCVM                Professor, WCVM, and co-ordinator of

(306) 966-7068                                               Merck-Merial Veterinary Scholar program                               (306) 966-7408                                    



Michael Robin
U of S Research Communications
Tel: (306) 966-2427



2006 Merck-Merial Veterinary Scholars — WCVM

• Tim German, first-year student, Western College of Veterinary Medicine

Home town/province: Saskatoon, Sask.

• Milly van der Loop, first-year student, Western College of Veterinary Medicine

Home town/province: Marsden, Sask.

• Allison Murray, first-year student, Western College of Veterinary Medicine

Home town/province: Argyle, Man.

• Ashley Ziegler, first-year student, Western College of Veterinary Medicine

Home town/province: Cochrane Alta.

• Hussein Keshwani, first-year student, Western College of Veterinary Medicine

Home town/province: Westlock, Alta.

• One student enrolled in another Canadian veterinary college (to be announced)




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