Top research recognized at Phi Zeta Days

Dr. Corey Fisher explains his abstract to Drs. Helena Zomer and Chris Vulpe during the poster session held April 18.
Dr. Corey Fisher explains his abstract to Drs. Ludovica Chiavaccini and Chris Vulpe during the poster session held April 18.

By Sarah Carey

Each year, the college acknowledges the top research being performed by D.V.M. students, graduate students, faculty, house officers and staff during our traditional Research and Phi Zeta Celebration.

Awards are given in a variety of categories for presentations as well as for overall excellence among faculty and graduate students. This year’s Phi Zeta activities began on April 18 with a poster competition and reception at the IFAS Straughn Center. The next day, our oral “Top Dog” and “Best in Show” competitions for D.V.M. and graduate students, respectively, took place along with a guest lecture given by Dr. Charles Vite, a small animal neurology specialist and chair of the college’s department of small animal clinical sciences.

Vite’s topic was “Developing Therapies for Neurogenerative Diseases of Cats and Dogs,” in which he discussed the development of therapies for Niemann Pick Type C and Krabbe Disease, which affect young children, dogs and cats.

Top Dog Awards
Given to a student from each veterinary class who made a research-oriented presentation that was deemed best in the class.

  • First Place: Fallon Guild, Class of 2027, “The Potential Role of the Glandular Microbiome of Owl Monkeys in Chemical Communication.” Mentored by Dr. Christy Wolovich and Dr. Melanie Langford of Florida Southern College.
  • Second Place: Edward Daly, Class of 2025, “Use of Serum Osmolality to Identify Heart Stage Disease in Dogs and Relationship to the Degree of Mathematical Chloride Correction.” Mentored by Dr. Autumn Harris and Dr. Darcy Adin.
  • Third Place: Bryana Smith, Class of 2024, “Modified Stapled Side-to-Side Jejunocecostomy.” Mentored by Dr. David Freeman, Dr. Anye Bauck, Dr. Elizabeth Moyer and Dr. Thomas Denagamage.

Best in Show Awards
Given to a graduate student from each of the college’s five academic departments whose presentation was selected as the best from that department.

  • First Place, Segundo Casaro, large animal clinical sciences: “Blood Metabolomics and Impacted Cellular Mechanisms During Transition into Lactation in Dairy Cows That Develop Metritis.” Mentored by Dr. Klibs Galvão.
  • Second Place: Alexandra Burne, infectious diseases and immunology: “The Invertebrate Galleria mellonella Differentiates Virulence Potential Between Species and Strains of Mycoplasma agassizii and Mycoplasma testudineum.” Mentored by Dr. Mary Brown.
  • Third Place: Kaylie Anne Costa, physiological sciences: “Sublethal Impacts of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substance (PFAS) Exposure on Acropora tenuis Larvae.” Mentored by Dr. John Bowden.

Graduate Student Awards

  • Excellence in Master’s Studies: Natalie Worden, mentored by Dr. Judith Bertran
  • Excellence in Doctoral Studies: Segundo Casaro, mentored by Dr. Klibs Galvao
  • Excellence in Clinical Science Research: Francesca Solari, mentored by Dr. Brad Case
  • Excellence in Basic Science Research: Kaylie Anne Costa, mentored by Dr. John Bowden

Faculty Awards

  • Zoetis Award for Research Excellence: Dr. Paul Cooke, department of physiological sciences.
  • FVMA Clinical Investigator Award: Dr. Judith Bertran, department of small animal clinical sciences.
  • E. Cornelius Young Investigator Award: Dr. Helena Zomer, department of physiological sciences.

Poster Competition Award Winners by Category:


  • First Place: Madeline McCoy, mentored by Dr. Chris Martyniuk. Abstract: “Investigation of the Effect of Low Dose Perfluorotetradecanoic Acid (PFTeDA) Exposure on Gut Microbiome Diversity in Adult Zebrafish (Danio rerio)”

DVM Students:

  • First Place: Nicole Anclade, mentored by Dr. Ludovica Chiavaccini. Abstract: “Fully Automated Deep Learning Modeling for Prediction of Pain in Domestic Goats: Preliminary Results”
  • Second Place: Kian Martin, mentored by Dr. Matthew Johnson. Abstract: “Experiences using a 1.7 mm locking bone plate system for stabilization of appendicular fractures in dogs and cats”
  • Third Place: Madison Hurley (Mentored by Dr. Elizabeth Maxwell.

Abstract: “In vitro effects of mitragynine and doxorubicin on canine hemangiosarcoma cells”


  • First Place: Dr. Corey Fisher, mentored by Dr. Ronald Goncalves. Abstract: “The Effect of Enteral Nutrition on Length of Hospitalization in Dogs with Severe Acute Kidney Injury: A Retrospective Study of 37 Cases (2011-2023)”
  • Second Place: Chanel Shum, mentored by Dr. Cleverson De Souza. Abstract: “Machine Learning-Assisted Canine Lymphoma Classification”
  • Third Place: Tomas Gonzalez, mentored by Dr. Rafael Bisinotto. Abstract: “Effect of treatment with GnRH 7 days after artificial insemination (AI) on interval to reinsemination and pregnancy per AI (P/AI) in lactating dairy cows”

Graduate Students/MS-Residents:

  • First Place: Abigail Ortiz, mentored by Dr. Elizabeth Maxwell. Abstract: “Effect of Food on Mitragynine Pharmacokinetics After Oral Dose of Encapsulated Kratom Administered to Female Beagle Dogs”
  • Second Place: Gabbie Robilotto, mentored by Dr. Aaron Mickle. Abstract: “Investigating Angiotensin Type 1 Receptor in Experimental Autoimmune Cystitis”
  • Third Place: Dorothea Megarani, mentored by Dr. Kuttichantran Subramaniam. Abstract: “One-Pot RT-LAMP CRISPR/Cas12b Platform for Rapid Detection of Tilapia Lake Virus”

Postdoctoral Fellows:

  • First Place: Donghee Lee, mentored by Dr. Jon Kim. Abstract: “The role of oncogenic PIK3CA mutation in canine hemangiosarcoma”
  • Second Place: Raiane Moura, mentored by Dr. Ludovica Chiavaccini. Abstract: “Vatinoxan improves sedation quality without improving tissue (muscle) oxygen saturation in privately-owned adult dogs undergoing intradermal testing”
  • Third Place: Firoj Alom, mentored by Dr. Aaron Mickle. Abstract: “Urothelial signaling can initiate a local bladder contraction”

Biological Scientists:

  • First Place: Nicole Adams, mentored by Dr. Aria Eshraghi. Abstract: “Francisella secretes PdpE through the type VI secretion system to inhibit host cell death”
  • Second Place: Amany Sultan, mentored by Dr. Chris Martyniuk. Abstract: “Elucidating metabolic effects of dietary GenX in Nile Tilapia liver”
  • Third Place: Daniel Verdugo, mentored by Dr. Adam Stern. Abstract: “The use of postmortem formalin fixed tissues for barbiturate screen in dogs and cats”

Special thanks to Zoetis, the FVMA, the Cornelius Young Foundation and the Charles F. Simpson Scholarship Fund. Below is a gallery showing some of the winners announced during the presentation. Not all winners were present for photos. To view some of our images taken during the poster presentation, click here.