Gifts in Action

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 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.

  • A Student's Serendipitous Summer in East Africa

    Story by Marcia Hill Gossard ’99, ’04

    Matt Sammons

    (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

    Story by Marcia Hill Gossard ’99, ’04

    Travis Kent

    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