An interest in immunology leads to a focus on public health

Finding what drives you is one of many reasons people come to Berry. Animal science major Alex Dhom (class of 2018) discovered his interest in immunology through his advisor Dr. Laura Flatow and his Berry College Integrity in Leadership mentor Dr. Tom Wilson, whose experiences and wisdom as a veterinarian greatly influenced him. During his time at Berry, Alex served as Vice President of Alpha Zeta (the academic honor society for animal science majors) and competed in the American Society of Animal Science Academic Quadrathalon. He also studied abroad at the University of Glasgow as an honors student. Now, Alex is headed to veterinary school at the University of Georgia, where he will focus on research and public health.

Story by Saif Sarfani (18C)

Berry’s vet shadowing program shines with students like Nabilah Curtis

Animal science major Nabilah Curtis (19c) uses every opportunity she can to chase her dream of becoming a veterinarian. Participating in the vet shadowing program with Clinical Assistant Professor and College Veterinarian Kirstin Ruffner gave her the opportunity to gain firsthand experience working with large animals on campus. “I think the shadowing program has definitely opened my eyes a bit more to large animal medicine. I never thought about being a cow, sheep, or horse vet, but while watching Dr. Ruffner work, I started to be able to see myself in that same position.” Nabilah hopes to attend vet school after Berry and work with both small and large animals.

Animal Dreams Do Come True at Berry, says Keiley Ayers

Keiley Ayers, a senior from Ohio, dreamed of being a vet but she never imagined getting “up close and personal” with a giraffe. But that’s exactly what happened during an internship after her junior year in South Africa on the Safari4U veterinary program. Transporting giraffes from one setting to another, she guided them with ropes. “It was amazing to see those beautiful animals up close and personal!”

Keiley came to visit Berry after seeing a photo on a brochure of a student in a field surrounded by cows. She enrolled when she realized it had everything she was looking for in a college: a top animal science program, a community that shared her Christian values and a strong lacrosse program. And now that she’s graduating, she’s realized her dream come true with admission to several top veterinary programs.

Her internship not only exposed her to many aspects of being a vet, but it also “helped me to realize how much I have learned during my time at Berry.” Since she was with students from different colleges, she found herself helping to teach others in her group. “That reminded me that my hard work has paid off!”

Keiley credits all of her experiences – her on-campus jobs, her research experiences, her African internship, even her lacrosse playing – as contributions to her overall success and satisfaction with Berry. But she gives a special shout-out to her faculty members who, she said, “are truly invested in your life and success … they have played a huge role in helping me get to where I am today.”

Jennifer Wayman takes hard work to the next level

In her four years at Berry, senior Jennifer Wayman has worked as a veterinary assistant and research assistant as well as held positions at the horse barn, beef cattle unit, and the Berry student enterprises. “I have been able to invest myself in my on-campus jobs and develop quality relationships,” says Jennifer, an Animal Science/ Pre-Vet major. “Berry has prepared me with a pretty impressive resume. I feel like the experiences and opportunities I have gotten at Berry would not have been offered to me at other schools.” Berry’s firsthand experience also benefited Jennifer when she interned with the Georgia Department of Agriculture last summer. “I was able to experience veterinary medicine on a much larger scale,” she says. After graduating this spring, Jennifer plans on applying to veterinary school.

Story by student social media assistant Shannon Rainey

Animal science students travel to Iowa for intercollegiate competition

Greyhounds and fish and rabbits, oh my! These were some of the animals discussed at the Intercollegiate Animal Welfare Judging Competition. Professor Rebecca Dixon accompanied eight Berry animal science students as they traveled to Iowa to compete with 16 other teams from across the country. The competition included evaluations of virtual welfare situations for greyhounds, fish and rabbits. In the live scenario, the team had the opportunity to visit and evaluate housing situations for pigs. The team also got to meet animal welfare pioneer Temple Grandin. Former team leader and 2017 graduate Kristianna Saelens says that meeting Grandin “was incredible, and I know everybody on the team was excited about that, too.” She will be passing on the team captain role to teammates Helen Jones and Caleb Brezina. “My favorite part of the trip was getting the chance to break out of my comfort zone while learning about animals I did not know a lot about,” says Helen.

Story by student social media assistant Shannon Rainey

Suleima Jacob-Tomas

2017 grad cultivates passion for scientific research

When one thinks about an animal science major, a veterinarian likely comes to mind. That was 2017 graduate Suleima Jacob-Tomas’ original career choice. However, during her sophomore year at Berry, she became interested in research and the nervous system’s intricate design and mechanisms. This led Suleima to take a behavioral genetics course and gain research experience under the direction of Biology Professor John Graham and Animal Science Assistant Professor Sunday Peters. Suleima credits these professors with helping her discover her passions and preparing her for graduate school. She is now a graduate student in the integrated program in neuroscience at McGill University in Canada as well as a recipient of the Friends of McGill Fellowship and Graduate of Excellence Award. Suleima’s decision to dive deeper into learning about the nervous system also came from her spinal cord injury, which she incurred in a car accident. “I became fascinated with the delicate, yet complex neural interactions and wanted to learn more about how these interactions influence an organism’s behavior in the hope of someday contributing to our ability to intervene and heal,” Suleima said.

Story by student social media assistant Saif Sarfani

Pre-vet student works with elephants in Thailand

Dogs and cats and … elephants? Berry student Robert Stilz (19c) recently traveled to Thailand to work with rescued elephants in the Elephant Nature Park and with dogs and cats at Animal Rescue Kingdom shelter. It followed his work at the Berry College sheep unit and a local vet clinic.  “Both prepared me by teaching me how to work with animals of all kinds and teaching me about veterinary medicine,” he says. Robert is an animal science/pre-vet major with minors in chemistry, Spanish, and One Health. He plans to earn his doctorate in veterinary medicine and his master’s in public health after graduating from Berry in 2019. “I still cannot believe what an amazing opportunity this trip was for me,” Robert says of the Thailand trip coordinated by Loop Abroad. “I’ve made lifelong memories and friendships on this trip and I would encourage anyone interested to seek out the same.”

Story by student social media assistant Shannon Rainey.

Associate Professor of Biochemistry Dominic F Qualley and Professor of Animal Science Jay Daniel

Dr. Qualley, Dr. Daniel and students M.G. Stockwell-Goering, A.R. Crane, C.M. Hernandez and B.K. Whitlock presented “Oral administration of L-citrulline increases plasma concentrations of Lcitrulline and arginine in horses” at the American Society of Animal Science-Canadian Society of Animal Science Annual Meeting, Baltimore, Md., July 8-13, 2017.

Assistant Professor of Animal Science Sunday Peters

Dr. Peters presented “Utility of robust mixed models in describing growth of seven strains of chicken using Logistics and Richards growth functions” and “Application of Bayesian robust mixed models in the use of non-linear functions to describe growth of three turkey genotypes” at the Poultry Science Association Meeting, Orlando, Fla., July 17-21, 2017.
He co-published “Molecular evolution of type II MAGE genes from ancestral MAGED2 gene and their phylogenetic resolution of basal mammalian clades” in Mammalian Genome and “Repeats conservation at the mammalian KCNQ10T1 – CDKN1C region suggests a role in genomic imprinting” in Evolutionary Bioinformatics. 

Professor of Animal Science George Gallagher

Dr. Gallagher, Dr. Sunday O. Peters and students Catherine H. Holloway, Kelly L. Williams, Robyn Y. Ellenburg, Brianna M. Saylors and Lara van der Heiden published “Influence of Visual Input on Behavior of White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) to an Auditory Alert Recording” in Proceedings of the 27th Vertebrate Pest Conference. Univ. of California, Davis.

Dr.  Gallagher and students have been working with the staff at the ECO Center in Rome to create a rotating display related to environmental research at Berry College. Last year, they focused on the rat snake with radio telemetry, examples of technology used in their research, and a continuous loop PowerPoint that was modified for the general public and youth audience about the work. Dr. Gallagher also gave a lecture about animal vision at the Center on July 27, 2017. In addition, Dr. Gallagher took a crew to Running Wild Ranch this summer, where students worked over 40 heads of sheep and goats and visited a baby camel.

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