2014 Brennan Summer Award Recipient

NOTE: This story is only about one of the research opportunities that Suzie pursued at UVM. She was also recognized for her research pursuits by receiving the CALS Distinguished Undergraduate Researcher Award.


Suzie graduated from the University of Vermont in 2015 with a double major in Animal Science and Microbiology. Suzie initiated her involvement in undergraduate research the fall of her junior year, yearning to explore the different options that existed within the veterinary field she planned to pursue as a profession. By the following spring, Suzie readily submitted a proposal for a summer research award. Out of the 116 students that applied, Suzie received the Brennan award given her academic standing and work ethic. With this money, Suzie headed to New York. Here, she was given access to the USDA High Biology Security Animal Disease Center on Palm Island, enabling her to perform her research. When assessing political boundaries, Palm Island is not technically within the United States, however is in close enough proximity that U.S. researchers can perform research here. This distance was crucial to Suzie’s research, as she was studying Foot and Mouth Disease in cattle: a condition that has not yet spread to the United States. This disease can be economically devastating, as demonstrated in England in 2001, for instance, when millions of cattle were slaughtered to prevent the spread of the disease. Due to the implications of this disease, Suzie’s research was focused on developing a potential vaccine for this disease to proactively combat its prevalence and repercussions. This research gave Suzie the opportunity to engage in meaningful research with international scientists in her own field of study. Suzie shared that the ultimate goal of her research was to engage in work that would have a positive impact on the world: an ambition shared by many of the students engaging in undergraduate research. 


Suzie’s research propelled her forward after graduation, and multiple graduate schools such as the University of Pennsylvania sought her out—all of these programs being drawn to Suzie’s impressive undergraduate experience that many other candidates lacked. All of the Veterinary programs Suzie applied to, including all of the East coast’s Ivy Leagues, offered her interviews with their program. Suzie chose to attend Cornell, where she is now studying…


Lily Fedorko