Six University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) students majoring in animal science recently had the opportunity to put their analytical skills to the test during a three-day visit to Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana. As part of Purdue’s Laboratory Investigative Veterinary Experience (LIVE), they participated in hands-on activities similar to those veterinary and animal science professionals undertake every day.
The participants included Cynamon Gates, Jurnea Stanley, Joseph Stewart, Tendai Musinga, Kalia Thomas and Emma Miller. The travel to Purdue University was funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture capacity building grant awarded to Dr. Jayant Lohakare, UAPB associate professor of animal science.
“Students were required to perform a necropsy dissection on piglets and learned how to determine their cause of death,” Dr. Lohakare said. “This included collecting, storing and processing samples from the dead animals for the correct diagnosis.”
Stanley, a sophomore participant, said she was a bit squeamish when she learned the group would be dissecting dead piglets. However, this activity quickly became one of her highlights of the program.
“My favorite part of the experience was performing the necropsy to solve the case of the pigs mysteriously dying,” she said. “It was extremely new to me … but once the pigs’ internal organs were exposed, I was so excited to explore. I also enjoyed solving the other cases and understanding the difference between the normal and abnormal femurs as well as the different cell types and bacteria. The overall experience was great because I was learning while having a ton of fun.”
The program included labs related to microbiology, molecular biology and parasitology, while lecture topics included animal welfare science, human-animal bond science and toxicology. During workshops on lab animal medicine, students handled lab animals such as rats and mice and visited Purdue’s state-of-the-art small animal facilities.
Dr. Lohakare said the program was also a chance for students to learn more about Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) programs and research and career opportunities in veterinary sciences.
“I greatly enjoyed the beautiful, newly-remodeled campus and amenities Purdue University had to offer,” Gates, a senior participant said. “Seeing the research animals was an enjoyable experience as well. It really tied into the hands-on labs and PowerPoint presentations, making it a more interesting experience.”
Gates, who has aspired to be a veterinarian since she was five years old, said the program broadened her outlook on the field of veterinary medicine. She said she also gained a lot of helpful information through discussions with graduate students and faculty members in the College of Veterinary Medicine.
“I learned how much hard work and dedication it takes to become a specialist,” she said. “Many of the graduate students were currently obtaining their PhD, which I found out can be obtained before you get your DVM or while working on your DVM.”
She said she was encouraged and relieved when the graduate students reassured her that it is OK not to know which specialty or field to choose right away.
“The world of veterinary medicine is such a broad field,” she said. “Many of the students and professionals thought they knew exactly what aspect of veterinary medicine they wanted to pursue, but later realized there were many different field groups to choose from and discovered the right fit for them.”
On the last day of the trip, Dr. Lohakare and the student participants were able to meet and speak with Lizney Rudds, a 2019 UAPB alumna of animal science, who is pursuing her DVM at Purdue University. She provided her peers with information on the ins and outs of pursuing educational and career opportunities in veterinary medicine.
The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.