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WesternU CVM Summer Research Program – FAQ

WesternU CVM Veterinary Summer Research Program Frequently Asked Questions

** This page is under construction. We appreciate your patience as we add new questions and answers regularly. Don’t see your question or answer here? Email CVMResearch@westernu.edu .

Program Components

What is the CVM Veterinary Summer Research Program?

The WesternU CVM Summer Research Program (WesternU-VRSP) 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” includes all seminars, small group discussions, and field trips that are part of the Summer Research Program (refer to the schedule distributed during the first day of the program). 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 program.

The part-time commitment is usually a minimum of 6-weeks of engagement (around 40 hrs/week), and includes a smaller stipend than the full-time commitment. 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 it is handled by the Office of the Vice-President of Research— students should 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). 

The full-time commitment 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 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. In addition, students should expect to engage, at minimum, 40 hrs/week in hands-on research– this schedule should be discussed between the mentor and the student, and may be impacted by the nature of their individual project.

Will I be able to work a full-time job and still engage in full-time research?

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. 

Can I take another work / experience while enrolled in the full-time summer research program?

Only if it does not interfere with your research project and any of the training sessions. 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  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 projects according to their preference. The student applications are returned to the CVM RAC (Research Advisory Committee) for review and are matched with an appropriate mentor. The choices of mentees are returned to the mentor 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?

No. To give all applying students an equal chance to be matched to an appropriate mentor, students should not reach out to a mentor prior to applying.

Will I be paired with the mentor I want?

There is no guarantee you will be matched with your preferred mentor. However, your chances of being matched are increased if you rank your preferred mentor as your #1 choice on the application, and your 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 at 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. 

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 this 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 that occurs at the end of the Summer Program.

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

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 National Veterinary Scholars Symposium 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.

 

Stipends

When can I expect to receive my stipend?

Boehringer Ingelheim and scholars funded through other extramural mechanisms are paid a four stipends during the summer. Payments are made via direct deposit or checks that are sent by account payable. 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 and the individual will be responsible for paying taxes. Individual labs are not responsible for providing scholar salary during the program. Please note that housing is not included in the stipend and will be the responsibility of the scholar.

Is my summer stipend taxable?

Yes.

What type of tax documents should I expect?

You will receive a 1099– 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.

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 Trinidad Cisneros (tcisneros@westernu.edu).

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

Contacts

Stipends, payments, lab ordering inquiries: Trinidad Cisneros, Research Analyst  |  tcisneros@westernu.edu

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

Lab safety questions: Noe Gonzalez, Director of Institutional Research Laboratory Services  |  nsgonzalez@westernu.edu