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OSU Veterinary Student Parasitologists Win National Awards

Friday, July 17, 2020

Kathryn Duncan, DVM (left) and Kellee Sundstrom (right) winners of AAVP Student Competition Awards.

Two Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine student parasitologists recently participated in the 2020 American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists Student Competition. Kathryn Duncan, DVM, placed first in the oral competition and Kellee Sundstrom placed second in the poster competition.

Duncan is a Ph.D. student and Boehringer Ingelheim Resident in Veterinary Parasitology at the veterinary college. Her research presentation was on “Diversity of Rickettsia spp. in Dermacentor spp. from across the United States.” She discovered that the predominant species of Dermacentor infesting pets across the United States is the American dog tick, Dermacentor variabilis.

“There is a wide diversity of Rickettsia spp., most with unknown pathogenicity in pets detected within this tick,” said Duncan. “None of the 600+ ticks tested were positive for Rickettsia rickettsia, the causative agent of Rocky Mountain spotted fever. I’m both proud and lucky to represent Oklahoma State University as a student in science and the recognition highlights our hard work as a whole.”

Sundstrom is a MS student and senior research specialist in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology at the veterinary college. Her research was on “Equine tick infestation in fall and winter in northeastern Oklahoma: Diversity, seasonality, and attachment site preferences.” The research is ongoing and will encompass examinations of the same horses for an entire year, allowing future analysis of seasonal trends.

“Previous research documented ticks on horses during warmer months when ticks are most active,” said Sundstrom. “Our research filled the gap showing ticks also feed on horses during cooler months of the year. Additionally, we found a diversity of tick species feeding on horses with somewhat different attachment site preferences. Most importantly to me, this award brings attention to a neglected area of research. We hope the recognition will continue the investigation of ticks on horses.”

Special thanks to Bayer and Elanco for sponsoring the awards for this year’s competition. If you would like to support research at Oklahoma State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, please contact Ashley Hesser, assistant director of development with the OSU Foundation, at or (405) 385-0715.

CONTACT: Derinda Blakeney, APR | OSU College of Veterinary Medicine | 405-744-6740 |

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