BVA Overseas travel grants support veterinary students’ research in Malawi and the Galapagos

20 September 2018

Veterinary students Rosie Bartholomew and Rachel Hartley Young were announced as recipients of the British Veterinary Association (BVA) Overseas travel grants during an awards ceremony at the BVA Members’ Day in York today.

The BVA Overseas travel grant scheme supports undergraduate research projects that contribute to sustainable development and good animal welfare overseas. The grants of £500 each aim to give students the chance to gain experience in the prevention and control of exotic and emerging animal diseases; help them develop beneficial life skills such as communication, adaptability and open-mindedness; and, through their work abroad, inspire a lifetime’s commitment to animal health and welfare globally.

Final year student at The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh, Rosie Bartholomew, used the grant for a project she undertook earlier this year on the challenges faced by women dairy farmers in the Likuni district, Malawi. The project focused on the One Health aspect of veterinary medicine investigating both a human health and an animal health and welfare issue. Working alongside vets and agriculturalists at the Small Scale Livestock and Livelihoods Programme, Rosie used a participatory photography tool from Photovoice to identify and discuss the challenges faced by these women and to develop possible community-based interventions to improve the productivity of dairy farming.

Responding to receiving her award, Rosie said:

“I was delighted to receive the BVA Overseas travel grant, which was a huge help towards making the project a reality for me. This research project has enhanced my enthusiasm to pursue a career in the field of Veterinary International Development. Having experienced first-hand the struggles and constraints faced by Malawian dairy farmers, I have been afforded an insight into the challenges faced by livestock farmers in developing settings far beyond what any amount of reading could have allowed me. I am deeply grateful to the women who gave up their time to be involved in this study and allowed me into their lives.

“Since the end of third year I have aspired to dedicate my working life assisting people for whom animals are their lifeline and the backbone of their livelihoods, and this project has solidified this aspiration. I would strongly encourage other students hoping to get involved in research, especially in the One Health field, to apply for this grant!”

Rachel, who is embarking on her final year at Cambridge Veterinary School, received the grant for her study on the estimates of feline populations and a survey of ownership patterns and public opinions regarding cats in the Galapagos. Rachel’s project aims to provide an information base to assist the authorities in planning and implementing a comprehensive cat management and control strategy.

Commenting on her Overseas travel grant from the Galapagos Islands, Rachel said:

“I was absolutely thrilled to hear I had been awarded the 2018 BVA travel grant. It has been fascinating and humbling to work in a culture with a very different attitude towards animals. Working at the clinic has stretched my veterinary and problem solving skills, and our lack of equipment has pushed me to think on my feet and be flexible.

“Designing and implementing my research project has been an invaluable experience that will be of great use in my future career. It has made me reflect about what kind of vet I aspire to be and highlighted the importance of building veterinary projects on a foundation of research. I hope to work internationally in the charity sector in the future and this experience will be absolutely instrumental in this.”

The BVA Overseas travel grant scheme began in 1983 and has so far helped 128 students undertake projects in 40 different developing countries. Previous recipients have carried out research on a range of topics including the conservation of arrowhead dogfish in the Philippines; the epidemiology and impact of bovine brucellosis and tuberculosis (TB) in Ethiopia; the prevalence and molecular identification of helminths in wild and captive Sri Lankan elephants; barriers to effective breeding and husbandry in communal alpaca herds in Peru; the conservative control of Wildebeest-associated Malignant Catarrhal Fever on a dairy farm in Kenya; and the prevalence of Canine Heartworm and three other vector-borne diseases in Fiji, among others.

BVA Media Office