Skip to Content Skip to Footer

WesternU CVM Veterinary Summer Research Program Frequently Asked Questions

This page is intended to provide assistance to those students currently enrolled, or interested in, the CVM Veterinary Summer Research Program (VSRP). Please note: due to the nature of this page, it may change from time to time as new questions and facts are added. We appreciate your patience as we update across time. Don’t see your question or answer here? Email CVMResearch@westernu.edu.

Program Components

  • What is the CVM Veterinary Summer Research Program (VSRP)?

    The WesternU CVM Veterinary Summer Research Program (VSRP) is a joint venture between the College of Veterinary Medicine Office for Research and the WesternU Office of Research and Biotechnology to engage veterinary students in research during the summer months. It is in part funded by Boehringer Ingelheim.

    This program is designed to train students in responsible conduct of research, expose them to career opportunities in biomedical research and provide hands-on experience in research. The short-term goal of this program is to expand students’ interest and skills in research and scholarly writing. In the long-term, this program aims at increasing the number of students who seek advanced training after graduation, pursue a biomedical research career, and/or remain scholarly active in their field of interest.

  • What is a workshop?

    The term “workshop” in this case is inclusive of all VSRP seminars, small group discussions, and field trips that are part of the VSRP (refer to the schedule distributed during the first day of the program for the most up-to-date info, or refer to past programs to gain an idea of what has been done in the past). These sessions are intended to supplement the hands-on research aspect of the program by improving the students’ knowledge in areas relevant to research such as general principles of grant writing, presentation of results, data analysis, statistics, scientific writing, and opportunities available to veterinarians in the area of research.

  • What’s the difference between part-time and full-time?

    Students will need to choose between a part-time and full-time commitment when considering the VSRP.

    A part-time commitment (students in this program are commonly referred to as “Fellows”) is usually a minimum of 6-weeks of engagement (around 40 hrs/week), and includes a smaller stipend than the full-time commitment (averaging around $2000). Students engaged in this type of program are welcome to attend all of the CVM scheduled Summer Research Program workshops, but are not required to do soWe (the CVM Office for Research) do not process applications for this program, as these applications are handled by the Office of the Vice-President of Research. Students should check their emails for the latest call, or contact Susan Dominguez at the Office of the Vice-President of Research directly for stipend, application and requirement details, and up-to-date information (sdominguez@westernu.edu).

    A full-time commitment (students in this program are commonly referred to as “Scholars”) is usually comprised of 10 to 11 weeks of full-time engagement in research (average 40 hrs/week). Students engaged in this type of program can expect a much higher stipend (averaging around $5000, but can be higher depending on the sponsor) than the part-time commitment, and must attend all workshops, seminars, and field trips. At the end of the program, full-time student researchers must present a poster at the National Veterinary Scholars Symposium (NVSS).

  • What will my hours and schedule be?

    The workshop schedule released at the beginning of the Summer Research Program is set in advance and is highly unlikely to change after being finalized. This schedule is shared with the students and mentors so that part-time Fellows can consider attending, and full-time Scholars can work around the schedule when planning their hands-on research.

    Full-time student scholars should expect to engage, at minimum, 40 hrs/week in hands-on research. The hands-on research schedule should be discussed between the mentor and the student, and may be impacted by the nature of their individual project. Hands-on research schedules cannot conflict with scheduled workshops.

  • Will I be able to work a full-time job, or take advantage of another program, while committing to being a full-time Scholar?

    Due to the average requirement of 40 hrs/week for the full-time commitment, it would not be possible for a student to seek full-time employment while engaged in the Summer Research Program. Please keep in mind, too, that lab hours are limited to 6 hours/week out of regular lab hours (after 5pm weekdays, Saturdays and Sundays).

  • What is the application process like?

    The application process for specific mechanisms varies (please see the “Sponsors and Applications” section on the Veterinary Summer Research Program portion of the website).

    Typically, the process first requires mentors to submit proposals for the program, which are reviewed by a committee and accepted or returned.

    When the application period for student applications opens, students will be given the chance to rank the accepted mentors projects according to their preference. Pre-matching with a mentor is encouraged– you will have a chance to indicate that you have pre-matched with a mentor when filling out the application.

    Next, the student applications are sent to the CVM RAC (Research Advisory Committee) for review and students are matched with an appropriate mentor.

    Finally, the choices of mentees are returned to their chosen mentors to rank, depending on their preference, and the matching is finalized with both mentor and mentee.

  • Should I reach out to a mentor before applying?

    This is encouraged, but purely optional. This is often referred to as a “pre-match”– students reach out to a mentor that they are interested in, agree to work together, then indicate in their application that they have pre-matched with the desired mentor.

  • Will I be paired with the mentor I want?

    You are usually guaranteed to be matched with your preferred mentor if you pre-match with them. If you have not pre-matched with a mentor, however, you can increase your chances of being matched to a preferred mentor by ranking them as your #1 choice on the application, and the desired mentor in return ranks you #1 in student choices.

  • What if my project requires me to participate full-time over the summer and I am not supported by BI/USDA?
    • Option 1: Volunteering is allowed
    • Option 2: Mentors may be able to provide funds to supplement your stipend
    • Option 3: Contact CVMresearch@westernu.edu by the Fellowship deadline with:
      • A copy of your Fellowship application
      • A detailed timeline / schedule for your project and justification for full time engagement over 10 weeks
      • Indicate your commitment to participate in ALL aspects of the full-time scholars program (training sessions, NVSS etc…)
      • Notify the office of the outcome of your Fellowship application
  • Expectations

  • How long is the program?

    The Summer Research Program typically starts around the end of May and culminates with the National Veterinary Scholars Symposium during the first week of August.

  • Do I have to attend all of the workshops and/or field trips?

    All students engaged in the full-time program are required to attend all workshops and field trips. Failure to do so could effect the students’ final stipend payment, or continued enrollment in the program.

    If you are engaged in a part-time commitment, you do not have to attend workshops– but you are invited, and encouraged, to do so. Part-time students interested in field trips should send an email to CVM Research to discuss possible support.

  • Do I have to have previous experience in research to apply to the this program?

    Students do not need prior experience to apply to the program, but prior experience is encouraged. Students may achieve experience prior to the VSRP by participating in the Introductory or Advanced Laboratory Research Student Scholar Programs.

  • Do I have to present a poster?

    Full-time summer Scholars will be required to present a poster at the National Veterinary Scholars Symposium (NVSS) that occurs at the end of the Summer Program.

    Part-time summer Fellows typically are required to present a poster at a professional scientific symposium or event– part-time Fellows should contact the Office of the Vice-President of Research (Susan Dominguez –sdominguez@westernu.edu) with questions.

  • Travel Reimbursements:

    Certain types of research related travel, such as travel to collect samples for the project you are working on, or travel to the NVSS may be covered by the “CVM Student Research Scholars and Research Trainee Travel Support” program. Contact the CVM Office for Research with details before you travel to inquire about what is covered and what documents may be required.

  • How do I arrange travel to NVSS?

    Travel will be arranged by the CVM Office for Research staff. You will be contacted at least a month prior to the event for information needed to book your flight and accommodations. If you are unsure of your schedule, have a complicated travel plans, or require special accommodations for travel, please contact CVMResearch@westernu.edu as soon as possible so arrangements can be made.

    In the case that an extenuating circumstance or emergency would make it impossible for you to make your flight or hotel reservation, you must reach out directly to your CVM Office for Research staff member for further instructions.

    For non-emergency situations, if you fail to contact the CVM Office for Research at least 30 days prior to your departure date, and do not show up for your flight and/or hotel reservation, you may be held liable for the charges if they are not refundable through the airline or hotel.

  • Can I choose my flight or hotel?

    All students scholars attending NVSS will be booked on the same flight, and housed at the same hotel or dorm, unless they require special accommodations. Students will be expected to travel together from the airport using the method recommended or booked by the CVM OFR at the time.

    Students may choose other flights or accommodations, but should not expect a reimbursement for this choice, and must inform the CVM Office for Research of their decision when the Office calls for information (and prior to them booking). Otherwise, if the CVM OFR has already booked travel, the student may be charged for that flight/accommodation in addition to the cost of their own booked travel, if a refund cannot be met through the hosting company.

  • Stipends

  • When can I expect to receive my stipend?

    Boehringer Ingelheim Scholars, and Scholars funded through other extramural mechanisms (such as USDA) are paid a four stipends during the summer (unless otherwise indicated in their sponsorship agreement). Payments are made via direct deposit (or printed and mailed checks upon request) that are sent by the University Accounts Payable office. The first check is usually disbursed at the start of the program, two payments are made during the program, and the final payment is made at the end of the program. Taxes are not withheld from these checks, so it is important for the student to know that they will be responsible for paying taxes at the end of the year when filing.

    Individual labs are not responsible for providing Scholar salaries during the program. Additionally, it is important to note that housing is not included in the stipend, and will be the responsibility of the Scholar.

  • How are scholars paid?

    Full-time scholars may receive their payment via direct deposit, or physical check (sometimes available to pick up on campus, or mailed directly to their place of residence). The method by which you are paid is arranged before the start of the program through Tao Sun (tsun@westernu.edu).

    Part-time scholars should contact the Office of the Vice-President of Research (Susan Dominguez –sdominguez@westernu.edu) for payment information.

  • Is my summer stipend taxable?

    Yes. You will receive a 1099 at the end of the year– you should contact a tax specialist to clarify what this means.

  • Are payments reported to Financial Aid?

    The CVM Office for Research is required to report all payments to Financial Aid. Students should always speak with financial aid before agreeing to any campus related paid activities to find out how the payment may impact them.

  • Contacts

    Stipends, payments, lab ordering inquiries: Tao Sun, Research Analyst tsun@westernu.edu

    General program inquiries, poster design: Christiana Benoit, Administrative Associate II  |  cbenoit@westernu.edu

    Lab safety questions: [Coming Soon]