2013 NMC Scholars Recognized

Students awarded travel scholarships to attend NMC 52nd annual meeting

The National Mastitis Research Foundation (NMRF) board of directors selected Peter Down, University of Nottingham; Pamela Fry, University of Missouri-Columbia; Felipe de Freitas Guimarães, São Paulo State University; and Di Liang, University of Kentucky; as the 2013 National Mastitis Council (NMC) Scholars. These four graduate students, who posses a strong interest in mastitis control, udder health and quality milk production, were recognized during the NMC 52nd Annual Meeting, held January 27-29, 2013, in San Diego, California.

As a veterinarian in the United Kingdom, Down developed a keen interest in mastitis as he witnessed difficulties producers face in controlling this costly disease. His doctorate program involves creating a Bayesian decision-theoretic framework to evaluate and optimize decision making for mastitis control. Although numerous studies report cow and herd risk factors for bovine mastitis, no research has evaluated optimal decision making in different farm circumstances. Down continues his clinical work on dairy farms and uses data from DairyCo, the national mastitis control plan, to evaluate which mastitis interventions are most cost effective, given a specific epidemiological diagnosis, to facilitate better decision making on farms. His long-term career goals include conducting research aimed at a better understanding of mastitis and improving udder health in the dairy cow population. Additionally, he wants to teach veterinary students and equip them with skills and knowledge to make a positive impact on their clients' farms.

Fry's career goal is to become a clinician scientist. In that pursuit, she is doing a residency in food animal medicine and surgery, with a goal of becoming board certified in large animal internal medicine. Fry is conducting research on coagulase-negative staphylococcal (CNS) mastitis, in which she assembles the genomic sequences of four CNS species isolated from cases of bovine mastitis. Her goal of is to identify virulence genes within these sequenced strains and then determine if the genes are prevalent among other CNS isolates of the same or different species. In addition, Fry will determine if the identified virulence factors have any effect on SCC or duration of mammary infection. By associating specific genes with disease, the research team hopes to identify new diagnostic methods or targets for interventional strategies. After completing her studies, Fry plans to obtain a job at a university, working as a clinical instructor and researcher.

A veterinarian and department of veterinary hygiene and public health doctorate student, Guimarães says Brazil's dairy industry needs to develop and implement new methods and concepts of mastitis control to ensure milk quality. To address this need, his research focuses on isolating and identifying the main staphylococci species that cause bovine mastitis, and studying their capability in producing enterotoxins. Guimarães does this by detecting enterotoxin-codifying genes and their expressions, evaluating antimicrobial resistance and searching for a vancomycin-resistant gene. Due to the increase in the percentage of intramammary infections caused by staphylococci species in dairy herds, identifying species capable of producing enterotoxins is important in determining and decreasing the risk of human exposure to such hazards. After completing his doctorate degree, he plans to teach at a university in an area related to public health and food safety.

Pursuing a master's degree, Liang's research involves developing a mastitis economics model. This model will increase awareness of the economic impact of mastitis, along with revealing relationships of commodity prices, cow factors and mastitis costs. Liang enjoys being involved in dairy extension activities, which have reinforced her desire to work directly with dairy producers in communicating the importance and practices of mastitis management. Born in southern China, she holds a bachelor's degree in animal science from China Agricultural University in Beijing. Her career goal is to return to China and work as a dairy consultant or manager. With advanced management systems and practices adopted from the United States, Liang would like to help build the Chinese dairy industry by addressing mastitis, a serious issue in that country. By adjusting Chinese dairy economic models to include mastitis costs, the dairy industry will better understand the importance of improving mastitis control and milk quality.

The NMC Scholars Program provides travel scholarships for graduate students to attend NMC annual meetings and encourage their involvement in NMC programs and activities. Funding for the program comes from the NMRF, which is financed through contributions from NMC members and supporters. The goal of the program is to support the development of future udder health, milking management and milk quality specialists.

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