College of Veterinary Medicine

Development & External Relations

Your Gifts Tell the Story

Behind every gift to WSU's College of Veterinary Medicine is a story. The detection of a new disease helps save lives. A scholarship makes veterinary or graduate school more affordable. A beloved animal's life is saved from cancer. From everyone at the college, you have our sincere gratitude for your generous support.

Gifts in Action 2014

A Student’s Serendipitous Summer in east Africa

(right) Matt Sammons ('16 DVM) training community interviewers
and animal health technicians in Kenya.

Matt Sammons ('16 DVM) thought he would be working in in a lab collecting bacteria samples during his summer research trip to Kisumu, Kenya. Sammons, a Global Animal Health Pathways student in the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, works with Dr. Douglas Call to learn how bacteria shared between human and animals might be related to malnutrition in children under 5 years of age.

"Bacteria provide very real benefits to people," said Sammons, who explained that we actually have more bacterial cells in our body than human cells. "So maybe decreasing malnutrition is not just about supplying nutrition, but also about improving bacteria in the gut."

But when he got to Kenya he learned the project’s start day had been pushed back. One piece of advice students get who are interested in international work, said Sammons, is that they need to be adaptable, flexible and prepared for anything. So what at first might have seemed like a missed opportunity, turned out to be an even more valuable experience than he expected.

"I couldn’t have asked for anything better," said Sammons, who instead of lab work took on an organizational role. He worked with community interviewers and animal health technicians to promote team building and creating a cohesive unit. He also conducted training on how to interview families and to collect samples.

"This was a great opportunity to set the project up for success," said Sammons.

As the only WSU representative over the summer, Sammons worked with project partners at the University of Washington and the Kenya Medical Research Institute, or KEMRI. In the evenings when it was morning in Washington State he would talk with partners at UW and then the next morning report back to his team.

"It was my first taste of a real, large-scale, multi-institutional, multi-national funded project," said Sammons, who plans to pursue a career in international health research. "It was a fun challenge."

But Sammons also explains how financial support was key.

"Having that funding is the reason the trip was possible," said Sammons who receive funds from the Allen School and two scholarships, the CVM Research Scholars Program and the Summer Research Fellowship.

The project is now scheduled to begin data collection within the next month or so. Sammons said he hopes to go back to Kenya to work in the lab or have a Kenyan exchange student come work in the lab at WSU. For him, the summer abroad gave him skills that will help him as a student and after he graduates.

"The skills I gained will be so empowering down the road," said Sammons.

Reaching for the STARS

Travis Kent

When Travis Kent was still a high school student in Boise, Idaho, Washington State University was one of his top choices. But it was on a visit to the WSU School of Molecular Biosciences when he was told about STARS, a fast-track program where students can begin as undergraduates and earn a doctorate in 7 years, when he knew this was the place for him.

"I was excited about getting into the lab early and that shifted my decision to come to WSU," said Kent, who in 2016 will earn a doctorate degree in genetics and cell biology.

With STARS, or Students Targeted toward Advanced Research Studies, students can begin their laboratory training their first year. Each semester and over the summer students receive stipends and the funding allows them to spend time doing their own research, rather than working off campus.

"Without the STARS program, I wouldn’t have been able to work in a lab over the summer," said Kent. "I would have been further behind in my research."

Because he had done lab rotations as an undergraduate, by the time he entered graduate school he was able to focus more on research and he was ahead of other graduate students entering the program.

"I've been working in the lab for 6 years," said Kent. "I feel better prepared for my exams and I was ahead in my coursework as well."

Kent’s research is on how abnormal levels of vitamin A, or retinoic acid, can affect fertility in men. A fat soluble vitamin, retinoic acid levels are affected by an individual's metabolism.

"Half of all infertility cases are men," said Kent. "But in about 50% of those cases, they don’t know the cause." His research could lead to different advice by doctors who may prescribe vitamin A to treat acne if it could cause infertility later on.

"I'm passionate about reproductive biology," said Kent.

When he finishes graduate school at just 24 years old, he will have many options in front of him.

"Whether I work in academia, government, or for industry, I haven’t decided," said Kent. He is currently planning to pursue 3 to 5 years of postdoctoral training after he earns his doctorate.

"After that, I am keeping my options open," said Kent.

For more information about supporting the STARS program visit

Keeping Families Together

Nick Snider ('14 DVM) with his wife Jennifer and their two daughters.

Sometimes it takes many bends in the road to get where you are going. For Nick Snider ('14 DVM) he managed a coffee stand, he and his wife, Jennifer, worked as camp counselors, and he went back to school planning to become a biology teacher. But then he took his first virology and zoology classes and he was hooked. He knew his calling was to be a veterinarian.

"It is mentally stimulating and I get to work with people. Not just clients, but also staff," said Snider, a self-described people person. Many go into veterinary medicine because they love to work with animals, but for Nick it was because he also likes to work people. And that goes a long way for being a good veterinarian.

"Working with people is something I always liked. It is a bit of the camp counselor in me," he said.

That love for animals and caring for people made him a natural to receive the "Our Caring Profession Award," which is funded by John Mattoon ('84 DVM) and his wife, Jennifer Mattoon. The recipient is selected by the 4th year class as someone who has sincere compassion and caring for animals and people, excellence in mentoring and serving as a role model, and someone with good judgment and understanding.

"It was a huge honor to be voted as the gentle doctor by my class," said Snider. "It gives me a lot to live up to."

Snider also received the Thomas Montgomery Scholarship three years ago, which is given to non-traditional students with a family, and was the recipient of the Dr. & Mrs. E. Doyle Montgomery Scholarship.

The scholarships helped make it financially possible for him, Jennifer, and their two young daughters to live together in Pullman during his last two years at WSU. He commuted to Spokane during his second year where his wife was a Kindergarten teacher.

"These scholarships are a huge help on an already tight budget," said Snider. "Over the four years even small amounts really add up. They go a long way."

After graduation, he started working at SouthCare Animal Medical Center in Spokane. But one day he hopes to own his own practice.

As for receiving the Our Caring Profession Award, Snider was humbled to be honored by his classmates, and felt it was a special way to finish his final year.

"As classmates we go through a lot together," said Snider. "It was a nice way to end our time there and honor the relationships we built."

We Can Feed Our Patients Even Better Thanks to a New Diet Kitchen

(l-r) Emily Cross, Purina Veterinary Communications Manager;
Bryan Slinker, dean of the college; Ainsley Bone (’11 DVM);
Harmon Rogers, former director of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

Feeding our patients the very best nutrition got a whole lot easier thanks to a partnership between WSU and the Nestlé Purina Center for Nutrition Excellence program.  In the spring of 2013, the Veterinary Teaching Hospital received the state-of-the-art dietary kitchen thanks to a $70,000 gift from Nestlé Purina to the college. 

"Nestlé Purina partnered with Washington State University to install a state-of-the-art diet kitchen, which provided a significant upgrade to the hospital’s facilities," said Emily Cross, Purina Veterinary Communications Manager.

With the diet kitchen, veterinary students, residents and faculty have easier access to therapeutic diets for hospitalized animals. A computer workstation inside the kitchen allows students and veterinarians to use special nutrition software to calculate optimal diets depending on a patient’s needs.  There are also dispensers for dozens of dry and canned pet foods that makes it easy to prepare the special diets required by hospital patients.

"The organization in the kitchen is very helpful in making diet recommendations based on patient conditions," said Matt Mickas, WSU small animal veterinarian.

For oncology patients, for instance, who greatly benefit from additional calories and high quality nutrition, the kitchen can help veterinarians easily find the optimal diet plan.

"When animals are really sick they can have food aversions," said Rebekah Lewis, a WSU oncology resident.  "Having a variety helps a lot because we can try different foods."

Lewis explained that maintaining a good quality of life for patients is the goal.  "We want them to be as happy and comfortable as we can," she said. 

"By providing ready access to optimally formulated diets, the kitchen enhances the care and recovery of small animal patients," said Deb Sellon, director of the Teaching Hospital. "It also is a great educational tool to help veterinary students better understand how important nutrition is in a comprehensive medical care plan for their patients."

Nestlé Purina also supports the WSU Pet Loss Support Hotline, the Veterinary Clinical Communications Program, senior papers, scholarships, and our Transitions Ceremony for third year students.

Nestle Kitchen

The state-of-the-art kitchen makes it easy to prepare special diets for patients.


Last Edited: Sep 02, 2014 3:57 PM   

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