Summer Scholars Program

The School of Veterinary Medicine provides an opportunity for current first, second, and third-year veterinary medicine students to work with mentors on a wide variety of research projects. Applications are accepted from students from other schools as well as students from UW–Madison.

The primary goals of our program have been and will continue to be: To provide an opportunity for veterinary medical students in the first 3 years of their veterinary medical education to participate in a research training program that will enhance their appreciation, interest, and knowledge of opportunities for future careers in biomedical research. Besides research opportunities within the SVM community, students can explore research experiences on the greater UW-Madison campus. We also partner with other DVM summer research programs on a national and global scale, including at USDA research centers and on the NIH campus.

In addition to the research experience, our program includes 12 weekly seminars with topics that include Ethics in Research, Career Opportunities, Research Programs of the Faculty Mentors, a “How To” seminar/discussion on writing abstracts, scientific manuscripts, and giving oral flashtalks and poster presentations.

DVM Summer Scholars can also choose to continue their research training in the laboratory of their mentor throughout the year, but this is not required.

Research Day

The School of Veterinary Medicine holds an annual Fall Research Day in October to highlight research accomplishments of the DVM Summer Scholars Program. Research Day includes short talks by representative SVM faculty that are interested in recruiting DVM Summer Scholars followed by a judge poster session. This special symposium provides the Scholars completing the program a chance to discuss the results of their research with faculty, staff and students. They can “showcase” their efforts and accomplishments. It is also a great opportunity for the aspiring applicants to discuss with current Scholars about the program, their experiences and what will be expected of them in if they have the opportunity to join.

National Symposium

Each year, all DVM Summer Scholars are invited to share their research at the Boehringer Ingelheim National Veterinary Scholars Symposium. This is a unique opportunity for DVM student research scholars from all around the country and beyond to share their research projects and ideas. This symposium has proved to be a powerful networking opportunity for veterinary students to interact with and learn about other school programs. The symposium is typically held the first weekend in August.

Program Expectations

  • Student Expectations
    • The Scholar is expected to work 40 hours/week in research activities with the program or in the lab.
    • The Scholar will participate in the weekly one-hour Summer Scholar Professional Development Series. If an absence occurs, the scholar is expected to view the recorded session and submit a 1-2 sentence reflection of the content.
    • The Scholar is expected to participate in science communication sessions including, Elevator Pitches/Flash Talk, Abstract Writing, Poster Preparation, Scientific Manuscript Strategies
    • Scholars funded by Boehringer Ingelheim or the NIH must attend the Boehringer Ingelheim National Veterinary Summer Scholar Symposium. Other sources of travel support are not guaranteed. Students attending the Symposium are strongly encouraged to present a poster describing their project.
    • Scholars will present a brief Flash Talk at the last Summer Scholar Professional Development Series session as part of the end of summer celebration. Bench-side and faculty mentors and labs will be invited to attend.
    • Scholars are expected to present their summer symposium poster at Fall Research Day.
    • A Scientific Manuscript describing the research findings is required and due by the end of the following spring semester.
  • Mentor Expectations
    • Mentors will be given the opportunity to take part in an abbreviated Facilitated Research Mentor Training Session
    • The Mentor and Scholar will discuss and sign the Aligning Mentor-Trainee Expectations
    • If applicable, this Aligning Expectation document will also be discussed with any bench-side mentors.
    • The Mentor will facilitate attendance to the Summer Scholar Professional Development Series. If research activities are in direct conflict, prior arrangements should be made.
    • The Mentor will work with their Summer Scholar (along with Summer Scholar leadership) to develop abstracts and posters for the Boehringer Ingelheim National Veterinary Summer Scholar Symposium and final scientific manuscripts.

Dates & Deadlines

February 1, 2024: Applications due. Submit applications to and copy Dr. Joan Jorgensen (

May 19– August 10, 2024: Program is in session

Wednesdays at 9 a.m., May 22– August 14: Summer Seminar Series. Final session will be flash-talk presentations by Scholars to SVM Community on August 14, 2024 (3-5pm).

August 8-10, 2024:  National Veterinary Summer Scholars Symposium, St. Paul, MN


Contact Program Director, Joan Jorgensen and/or Jenny Dahlberg (Program Coordinator) for administrative questions.

More information

Application Information

Every application should include:

  • Cover page to include the title of the project, dates of the proposed project period and the names of the student and faculty member.
  • A short research proposal (no more than 4 pages) to contain:
    • Background and significance
    • Hypothesis
    • Objectives for the summer
    • A brief description of approaches and methodologies
    • Bibliography. The bibliography does not count toward the 4-page limit.
    • The objectives should clearly indicate how this proposal will provide a quality research experience for the student. We are not interested in funding proposals if the student is not provided with a quality learning experience that allows them to make an informed decision regarding whether or not to consider a research-oriented career in Veterinary Medicine.
    • The research proposal should be written from the student perspective, with mentor involvement and assistance, but should not be copied verbatim from a mentor’s grant or website.
  • The budget page should list related research costs outside of the student’s fellowship (do not list student stipend, this will be provided by this program). This should include an approximate costs of supplies, user fees, and experimental animals. The purpose of including the budget is to provide the student with an idea of the cost of research. If animals are to be used in the experiments, the RARC animal protocol number or evidence that application for approval has been made must be noted on this sheet. The faculty advisor must also obtain appropriate approval for the use of radioactive materials and/or biological hazards.
    • Note: All costs except the student fellowship must be covered by the faculty mentor!


  • Mentor Statement: Include a brief description of how often and in what way the mentor plans to interact with the DVM student (2-3 sentences). If a bench-side mentor will be working with the DVM student, indicate how both bench-side mentor and DVM student will be mentored.  This page should also include the following statement, signed by the faculty mentor:
    • “I have read this proposal and agree to supervise the project outlined by this student. I understand that this fellowship only provides salary support for the student. I understand that I am responsible for providing the remaining funding and other costs as noted in the budget and can assure the committee that these funds are on hand.
  • A listing of the faculty mentor’s current research support. Include the following information: title of project, agency, role on project (PI or co-PI), dates of project, and direct costs of project for the entire time period.
  • In a letter accompanying the proposal, the student should discuss her/his motivation for examining research as a career option. Include what you expect to gain from this summer experience and how it might impact their future career plans. This letter should include a description of previous research experience, if any (no research experience is required).


The following rubric will be used to evaluate applications:Summer Scholars Application Evaluation Rubric

Mentor Information

Below is a list of mentors that have been part of the program in the last few years. Students are encouraged to approach any faculty that share their interests, whether or not they are on this list. There have also been mentors from other schools/colleges at the UW and outside the university (e.g., National Wildlife Health Lab).

Students from outside the school and students who need additional assistance should contact Dr. Jorgensen at least a month before the application is due.

Lisa Arendt Dorte Dopfer Rob Lipinski Susannah Sample
Tracy Baker Johanna Elfenbein Christoph Mans 
Kristin Bernard Tom Friedrich Kurt K. Sladky
Sabrina Brounts Tony Goldberg JP Martins Marulasiddappa Suresh
Michael Cahill Gillian McLellan Masatoshi Suzuki
Starr Cameron Erik Hofmeister Freya Mowat Adel Talaat
Troy Hornberger Peter Muir Leandro Teixeira
Becky Johnson Jorge Osorio Lauren Trepanier
Joan Jorgensen Xuan Pan Chad Vezina
Nigel Cook Sathish Kumar Keith Poulsen Mostafa Zamanian
LaTasha Crawford Matt Reynolds Fei Zhao
Erin Lashnits Wilmara Salgado Pabon


A sampling of projects

Since its inception in 1992 the veterinary medical student research training program has provided an opportunity for more than 180 students to participate in various research projects with UW–Madison faculty.

Examples of past projects have included:

  • Collagen degradation in ruptured canine cruciate ligament
  • Pathogenesis of condylar fractures of the third Metacarpal/third metatarsal bone in thoroughbred racehorses
  • Validation of a neuraminidase real-time RT-PCR panel with migratory bird isolates from Egypt
  • Age-related change and exercise induced plasticity in the hypoglossal nucleus
  • Targeted gene-directed radio sensitization in canine tumor cells
  • West Nile Virus infection in dogs of southern Wisconsin
  • West Nile Virus in avian species in Colombia.
  • Factors affecting feline respiratory disease complex in an open admission shelter
  • The effects of sex hormones on ventilatory control in aging rats
  • Characterization of liver auto-antibodies in dogs with chronic hepatitis
  • An immunohistochemical and clinical examination of 37 cases of feline nasal lymphoma
  • Immobilization of two-toed and three-toed sloths using dexmedetomidine in Upala, Costa Rica.
  • Pharmacokinetics of meloxicam in Hispanolian parrots.