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.

In addition to the research experience, our program is designed to have 12 weekly seminars and discussion groups on Ethics in Science, Career Opportunities, Research Programs of the Faculty Mentors, a “How To” seminar/discussion on Writing Grant Proposals, Writing Articles for Publication in Scientific Journals, and How to Give Oral and Poster Presentations.

Another goal is to provide some of our students research training opportunities at various locations off campus and even outside the United States.

As evident by the accomplishments of many of our Scholars over the past years, our program provides an exceptional opportunity for the Scholars to not only perform research in the summer, but if they have an interest and time, they can continue their research training in the laboratory of their mentor throughout the year.

In mid to late April (approximately one year after starting the program), all local scholars participate in Research Day. We generally have a guest speaker and all the Scholars present either an oral (25 to 30 min.) overview of their research or a poster presentation with a 5 to 10 minute oral summary and Q&A. The Scholars are required to write a scientific paper in a journal style of their choice that is generally due by the first week of May of the year following this summer experience. Many of our Scholars present results of their projects at national meetings and many have successfully published their research findings in various journals. Students from other schools will present results of their research at the end of the summer session and their papers are due no later than the first week of May.

Research Day

The School of Veterinary Medicine holds an annual Research Day each April to highlight research accomplishments of the Student Scholars Program. The veterinary medical students from UW–Madison participate in the program. During Research Day, the current Boehringer Ingelheim Scholars present research results and meet the newly selected Scholars and faculty members. This program is very useful in that the Scholars completing the program have 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 newly selected Scholars to discuss what will be expected of them in the program, the National Boehringer Ingelheim Symposium, as well as discuss the research they plan to perform for their project.

National Symposium

Each year, all Boehringer Ingelheim Scholars are invited to share their research at the Boehringer Ingelheim National Veterinary Scholars Symposium. The symposium is typically held the first weekend in August annually.

Dates & Deadlines

February 1, 2023: Applications due. Submit applications to and copy Dr. Joan Jorgensen (

May 21 – August 12, 2023: Program is in session

Wednesdays at 9 a.m., May 24 – August 9: Summer Seminar Series. Final session will be flash-talk presentations by scholars to SVM Community.

August 3-5, 2023:  National Veterinary Summer Scholars Symposium, San Juan Puerto Rico


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, and a 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. In light of the problems that arose last summer due to the pandemic, please add a brief paragraph (2-3 sentences) regarding how the project might be modified if persistence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus might limit access to the laboratory.
  • The budget page should list related research costs outside of the student’s fellowship (provided by this program), such as 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!
  • A page containing the following statement, signed by the faculty mentor must also be included: “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. I also understand that I must participate in the “summer seminar” for NIH Boehringer Ingelheim Scholars.”
  • 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. This letter should include a description of previous research experience, if any.
  • The student is expected to write a paper in journal style (your choice of journal) and submit it on or before the end of the spring semester. The student will present the results of their research at Research Day. Presentations can be made in oral or poster format.
  • Students funded by Boehringer Ingelheim must attend the Boehringer Ingelheim Symposium. Funding for travel will be provided for those supported by Boehringer Ingelheim and the NIH; other sources of travel support are not guaranteed. Students attending the Symposium are strongly encouraged to present a poster describing their project. Students presenting posters will receive priority if travel funds are limited.

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. Bjorling at least a month before the application is due.

Lisa Arendt Dorte Dopfer Rob Lipinski Susannah Sample
Tracy Baker Johanna Elfenbein Christoph Mans  Linda Schuler
Kristin Bernard Tom Friedrich Mark D. Markel Kurt K. Sladky
Dale Bjorling Tony Goldberg JP Martins Marulasiddappa Suresh
Jason Bleedorn Ted Golos Gillian McLellan Masatoshi Suzuki
Sabrina Brounts Erik Hofmeister Freya Mowat Adel Talaat
Michael Cahill Troy Hornberger Peter Muir Leandro Teixeira
Starr Cameron Becky Johnson Jorge Osorio Lauren Trepanier
Hannah Carey Joan Jorgensen Xuan Pan Chad Vezina
Nigel Cook Sathish Kumar Keith Poulsen Mostafa Zamanian
LaTasha Crawford Kathy Kurth Matt Reynolds Fei Zhao
Charles J. Czuprynski 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.