A new One Health Institute opportunity for undergraduate students aims to strengthen ties between researchers at the University of Guelph and McMaster University.
The University of Guelph and McMaster University Undergraduate Summer Research Studentship supports an experiential research opportunity for a summer student. The award was established through a partnership between McMaster’s Global Nexus School for Pandemic Prevention and Response and the University of Guelph’s One Health Institute.
“This award was designed to support collaborative One Health research and undergraduate training across our two institutions. Here we see this concept put to work in a real and practical way, which is very exciting,” said Dr. Jeff Wichtel, dean of the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) and Chair of the One Health Institute advisory board.
Dr. Cate Dewey, director of the One Health Institute and OVC assistant dean, added, “Society needs people to think and work across disciplines, and this award is one way that the One Health Institute is helping the University of Guelph catalyze that effort.”
Supporting One Health researchers
The idea of hiring a student to assist with a shared research project was what drew Dr. Sarah Wootton, professor in the Department of Pathobiology (OVC) and the U of G faculty recipient of the 2023 award, to apply.
Wootton will work with undergraduate student Arielle Gillies and with Matthew Miller, director of the M.G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, Canada Research Chair in Viral Pandemics and associate professor at McMaster.
Gillies will work on a research project to improve vaccine therapies for respiratory pathogens. Antibody engineering, essential for this work, will be conducted in collaboration with Miller’s lab. Gillies will spend at least 10 days working in Miller’s lab at McMaster.
“I’m really looking forward to this research opportunity and I’m so excited to work with both Dr. Wootton and Dr. Miller,” said Gillies. “I’m thinking about what I want to study in grad school, so it’s great that I can explore One Health.”
At McMaster, biology student Paige Hopkinson will contribute to a shared research project on Clostridioides, which is acquired by humans and animals while in health-care facilities. Hopkinson will examine Clostridiodes from humans as well as poultry and pigs.
The project is a partnership between Michael Surette, a McMaster professor of biochemistry and biomedical sciences, and Dr. Luis Arroyo, a professor in the Department of Clinical Studies. Surrette and Arroyo hope to identify elements that carry genes between humans and animals.