First Ross Student to Be Named a Morris Foundation Scholar


May 8, 2009—(North Brunswick, NJ)—Kirsten Thomas has become the first Ross University student to be accepted into the Morris Animal Foundation’s Veterinary Student Scholars Program—a program designed to give veterinary students hands-on involvement in research early in their careers to encourage them to enter fields where there is a critical need.

As part of the application process, Kirsten had to submit a grant proposal that described the project she would spearhead should she win.

“Writing a grant takes a lot of time, along with a tremendous amount of guidance and support,” she told the Spotlight. “Dr. Kimberly Stewart of the St. Kitts Sea Turtle Monitoring Network, Dr. Terry Norton of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, and Dr. Julia Horrocks of the University of the West Indies and the Barbados Sea Turtle Project were tremendously supportive and helpful throughout the process.”

Kristen was notified via email that she was a recipient of a 2009 Morris Foundation student scholar grant, which she noted was a “very exciting email to receive.”

The grant will allow Kristen to carry out a collaborative health study in Barbados on a population of green sea turtles that interact with tourists on a daily basis, and will focus on basic blood work, bacterial culture, and antibiotic resistance in these turtles.

“Very little is known about sea turtle health in general. We will work toward creating a baseline health profile on healthy, green sea turtles in Barbados, and will then compare these baselines with the population of green turtles that have become a major tourist attraction and subject to high levels of human interaction.  I will be doing the sample collection myself, and will be collaborating with several major research institutions, including the St. Kitts Sea Turtle Monitoring Network, Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, the University of the West Indies, and the Barbados Sea Turtle Project.”

According to Kristen, her recent work with the St. Kitts Sea Turtle Monitoring Network as a research assistant and in-water tagging coordinator gave her the experience and knowledge necessary to write the grant proposal.

“I am excited to be the first Morris Foundation Scholar at Ross and hope that other students will follow suit,” she said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to pursue a variety of veterinary interests. There are grants available not only in wildlife health, but also in both large and small animal veterinary health. It’s a wonderful way to practice the skills we are learning in school while learning more about research and contributing to the veterinary community in a meaningful way.”

“It has been a wonderful learning process, and one that I hope to continue for many years to come.”

About Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine
Ross University was founded in 1978 and is a provider of medical and veterinary education, offering doctor of medicine and doctor of veterinary medicine degree programs.

Located in St. Kitts, the School of Veterinary Medicine has graduated more than 2,200 students over the last 27 years. The School of Medicine is located in Dominica, West Indies, with clinical education centers in Saginaw, MI, Miami, FL, and The Bahamas.

Ross University’s administrative offices are located in North Brunswick, NJ. For more information about Ross University, visit or call 732.509.4600/877.ROSS.EDU.

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