Penn Vet awards help students advance veterinary medicine

Penn Vet Student Awards Top: Fourth-year Penn Vet student Nikkita Patel. Bottom: Second-year Penn Vet student Brittany Gross.

Two students from the Penn School of Veterinary Medicine have won the 2010 Penn Vet Student Inspiration Awards, the largest monetary prizes given to students in the field.

Nikkita Patel and Brittany Gross were each awarded $100,000, provided by the Vernon and Shirley Hill Foundation, to use toward fulfilling their veterinary missions. The awards are presented each year to two Penn Vet students who demonstrate the potential to advance the frontiers of veterinary medicine and expand the profession’s impact on the wellbeing of animals and society.

Patel, a native of Knoxville, Tenn., is a fourth-year Penn Vet student whose award-winning proposal, “Veterinary Public Outreach 2.0,” aims to use the internet to inform the public and governmental policymakers about wildlife trade and veterinary issues. She will use the award to develop tools that better inform the public on global animal health issues. Her goal is to help conserve wildlife by launching the Google Earth Project for Wildlife Trade.

“Veterinarians are evolving to have the responsibility of stewards of the planet,” Patel says. “Within this role, it is our duty to educate the public on the depth and breadth of current problems that we are working to help solve, encompassing public health, conservation and environmental health.”

Gross, a native of South Sterling, Pa., is a second-year Penn Vet student who has lived and worked in many countries throughout the world, including Thailand. She will use her award to construct Dairy Learning Centers in rural Northeast Thailand in order to empower young Thai women to find employment and become leaders in the country’s burgeoning dairy industry.

“I knew that I would return to Thailand sometime in my veterinary career,” Gross says. “I am drawn to the culture, and the country’s dairy industry fascinates me.  I am deeply honored and incredibly excited to have been granted the means to initiate the project I have outlined a decade sooner than would have been realistically possible. This award is truly life-changing.”

The awards were presented on Sept. 28 at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, given alongside the Penn Vet World Leadership Award. This year’s winner was Mo Salman, a professor of animal population health at Colorado State University.

For more information about the World Vet Leadership and Student Inspiration Awards, visit the Penn Vet World Awards website.


Originally published on September 30, 2010