Summer Scholars Program Description

LSU Vet Med Students

The number of funded students each year is dependent upon available funding. The average number of funded students has ranged from 16-26 over the last several years. Students are encouraged to select a mentor from the list provided on this website. It may be useful to contact several potential mentors to find the right fit for you. Do not limit your contact to faculty that you have only had as instructors. Faculty mentors with active, ongoing research programs will be able to help you develop and conduct a summer experiment. Summer Scholar projects are often a small portion of a larger study that is ongoing in the mentor’s laboratory. However, as a summer scholar student you will directly participate in experimental methods, data collection, data analysis and reporting of results. Students will also likely be asked to assist with other research projects that are being conducted by the research group. There is a wide and diverse array of opportunities. Search the list of mentors to find a faculty member conducting research in your area of interest.

Non-LSU Vet Med Students

Students from other veterinary colleges within the US and internationally are encouraged to apply and are sought to bring diversity into our program. If interested, please contact Dr. Britta Leise at for more information regarding the application process. It is helpful if you can provide the following information:

  • Name and email address
  • Veterinary School
  • Year in veterinary school
  • Area of interest
  • Previous research experience (not required to participate in the program)

Special assistance will be given to students via email, telephone or zoom to help select a potential mentor and to formulate the application. Selection criteria include: Student grade point average, ranking in their class, academic background, interest in research, and research area selected in reference to their career goals.

Extramural funding for the student stipends is provided by the following available funding mechanisms: Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation Grant, Natinal Institutes of Health T35 Training Grant, and the Kenneth Burns Foundation. Additional funding may be provided by the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, the Equine Health and Sports Performance Program, the Morris Animal Foundation, and the Arkansas Veterinary Medical Foundation. Selection of funding source will be determined by the Summer Scholars’ Committee upon proposal review and will be based off of the requirements from each funding mechanism.


Once a mentor is selected, the student and mentor will develop a research plan of study. This research plan may be part of a larger ongoing study within the mentor’s laboratory or may be a standalone project; however, the research should be “doable” over a 10-week period. Studies should be a topic of interest to the student with the likelihood of leading to the discovery of new information. Areas of research may include immunology and infectious diseases, cancer biology, molecular epidemiology, experimental studies focused on nutrition and obesity, pharmacology, environmental toxicology, mechanisms of disease pathogenesis, zoonoses, biomechanics, cardiovascular pathophysiology, and others.

The selected mentor and advisors from the Summer Scholars’ Committee will provide guidance to the student and assess their progress throughout the summer. At completion of the program, students will give an oral presentation to their colleagues and mentors and will present their results in poster format at the Annual AAVMC/Boehringer Ingelheim Summer Scholars Symposium (held in August). LSU Students will also present their poster at the LSU Vet Med Phi Zeta Research Emphasis Day (held in February the following year) and will receive elective credit in the curriculum (VMED 5010 or VMED 5463). Students are strongly encouraged to work with the mentors to publish their findings in peer-reviewed journals.

Additional program activities are an integral part of the Summer Scholars experience and are aimed at expanding the students’ understanding of opportunities for veterinarians in biomedical research.

These activities include:

  • An introduction breakfast including group photo, meet and greet student and mentor and seminar on Research in Veterinary Medicine.
  • A series of one-hour lecture/discussions presented by faculty during the initial few weeks of the program. Topics include Experimental Design and Statistical Methods, Ethics in Research, Responsible Conduct of Research Issues, Animal Welfare Issues, Authorship, Grantsmanship and Writing, and an introduction to LSU Vet Med central service facilities (Tissue and Organ Culture, GeneLab, Electron Microscopy, FACS, and Analytical Chemistry), and Introduction to poster preparation & presentation.
  • Group workshops to discuss each student scholars’ research progress and to assist with poster preparation.
  • Three to five scientific presentations and discussions will be held with notable local scientists on contemporary topics such as Stem Cell Biology, Translational Biology, and Modern Vaccinology.
  • Field trips to regional research centers. Past fieldtrips have included the Tulane National Primate Research Center, the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, LSU Center for Emerging Technologies (a biotechnology incubator), and the LSU School of Public Health in New Orleans and the Mississippi Aquarium.
  • Informal evening social activities will be held for mentors and student scholars and their guests.
  • Presentation of research results will occur orally, at the National Symposium, and at the LSU Phi Zeta Research Emphasis Day.

Veterinary Medical students in the 1st and 2nd year of their curriculum.

Students not concurrently enrolled in a graduate program such as our DVM/PhD program.

The Boehringer Ingelheim program restricts participation to one year. However, students may receive a second-year support through the NIH program, Morris Animal Foundation, or other extramural support if there is available funding.

Preference will be given to students without prior formal research experience (such as those that have already obtained a MS or PhD).

Students from any College of Veterinary Medicine (both nationally and internationally) are encouraged to apply.

Summer Scholar Grants will be awarded to students based off the evaluation of the application and proposal as described below:

  • Originality and relevance to the future advancement of animal health - 30%
  • Student grade point average, academic background, and interest in research - 20%
  • Feasibility of the research plan, budget, and value as a learning experience - 20%
  • Level of support & guidance expected to be provided by mentor(s) - 20%
  • Potential for publication of findings in a scientific journal - 10%

Funds to support students selected for the program may be provided by Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation, the National Institute of Health, Kenneth Burns Foundation, Arkansas Veterinary Foundation, LSU Equine Health and Sports Performance Program, and the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine. Stipends for students salaries is typically determined by NIH funding recommendations (2023 funding was $6,786). Funding through the program is for student support only. All additional research expenditures are covered by the research mentor’s program/grants. Intellectual property rights for results of these studies will follow LSU guidelines. As per University guidelines, mileage reimbursement up to $500 will be provided for LSU students electing to work at the Tulane National Primate Research Center for the purposes of travel.

Posters are required to be presented at the Summer Scholars Symposium and at the LSU Vet Med Phi Zeta Research Emphasis Day. 

Poster Requirements