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Oklahoma State University

Faculty Mentors

João Brandão, LMV, MS, DECZM (Avian)
Associate Professor, Zoological Medicine
Veterinary Clinical Sciences

Research interests:  Endocrinology, sedation and anesthesia, coagulation, clinical research

Potential Research Projects:

  • The use of lignocaine-prilocaine local anesthetic and capsaicin cream for pain-free venipuncture in rabbits
  • Comparison of body temperature site measurement to rectal temperature in healthy rabbits
  • Thyrotropin stimulating hormone in rabbits

The ideal student should be organized, self-drive and willing to work independently or in a partnership with other students.

Joshua T. Butcher, BA, MS, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Physiological Sciences
Phone: (405) 744-8088

Research interests:  I have multiple research interests, but currently my research paradigm focuses on obesity and aging (sarcopenic obesity). We are currently looking at how exercise (specifically skeletal muscle) can uncouple obesity from its cardiometabolic complications (like hypertension, vascular dysfunction, renal disease, diabetes, etc.) and overlaying these comorbidities in an aging rodent model.

Potential Research Projects:

One potential project idea would be: “Obesity and its Effects on Brain Oxidant Stress, Aging and Vascular Adrenergic Dysfunction, Does an Exercise Mimetic Improve Renal Function, Obesity and its Effect on Lung Function, etc.”  That being said, if a student has a particular passion for a topic that’s not listed, I’ve certainly never been one to shy away from a new scientific adventure!

The ideal student will have an enthusiasm for science and willingness to work hard in a team setting.

Li-Jen Chang, BVM, MVM, CVA, Ph.D.
Associate Professor / Clinical Assistant Professor, Veterinary Clinical Sciences

Research Interests:

  • Veterinary anesthesia and analgesia
  • Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine

Potential Research Projects:

  • Comparison of direct and indirect (Oscillometric) arterial blood pressure measurement in anesthetized rabbit
  • Comparison of the sedation effects of dry needle or hydro-acupuncture at “An-Shen” point with or without dexmedetomidine in rabbits

The ideal student should be interested in exotics/anesthesia and has previous experience in clinical research

Rudra Channappanavar, DVM, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Veterinary Pathobiology
Phone: 405-744-7224

Research Interests: Major focus of research in my laboratory is to study the immune response to coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV, and MERS-CoV. We examine protective efficacy of antiviral agents and vaccines in models of coronavirus infections. We also study factors that lead to protective and pathogenic immunity to coronaviruses in young and aged, and males and females. We utilize in-vitro and in-vivo (animal models) systems to assess the role of immune response during coronavirus infections.

Potential Projects:

  • Evaluate vaccine induced immunity against coronaviruses in young and aged hosts.
  • Test the efficacy of novel antiviral and anti-inflammatory drugs in COVID19 models.
  • Identify host and virus factors that cause severe vs mild to moderate disease.

An ideal research student would be highly motivated, hard-working, and sincere who can work as a team with other laboratory members.

Guangping Chen, MS, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Physiological Sciences
Phone: (405) 744-2349

Research Interests:

Research in this laboratory focuses on sulfotransferases, enzymes catalyze sulfation reactions in vivo. The biological activities of many hormones, especially steroid hormones, are regulated by these enzymes. We are interested in the investigation of new biological functions of these enzymes, especially how they regulate hormone activities, and develop potential therapies for related cancers and diseases. We are currently looking at the biological roles of estrogen sulfotransferase (SULT1E1) in breast cancers, and trying to develop novel therapies for the treatment of estrogen-sensitive cancers.

Potential Research Projects:

One potential project is to use our developed CRISPR/dCas9-VPR transfected MCF-7 cells (estrogen-sensitive breast cancer cell line); combined with sgRNA to up-regulate various breast cancer relevant genes; use siRNA to down-regulate these gene; to investigate the mechanisms of estrogen functions in estrogen-sensitive breast cancers (by manipulating these genes); therefore to potentially develop novel therapies for estrogen-sensitive cancers. We will work on both 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional cultured cells.  

The ideal student will have an enthusiasm for biological science and willing to work hard. The student will work on cell culture and some biological essays.

Myron Hinsdale, DVM, Ph.D., DACVM
Associate Professor, Physiological Sciences
Email: (email with SRTP in the subject line)

Research Interests:

Generally, how the extracellular matrix of organs affects tissue recovery/regeneration post-injury. Liver and renal genetic disease, infectious diseases of the respiratory system, and stem cells in metabolic diseases.

Potential Research Projects:

  • Oocyte implantation and proteoglycans
  • Inhibitors of adipose stem cell adipogenesis
  • Brain proteoglycans and structural changes
  • Pulmonary proteoglycans and lung disease

The ideal student should have these qualities:

  • Curious
  • Studious
  • Excited about learning new technics in, ideas about, and mechanisms of how organs maintain homeostasis

Nicola Di Girolamo, DMV, MSc (EBHC), GP Cert (ExAP), PhD, DECZM (Herp), DACVZM
Associate Professor, Zoological Medicine

Research interests: Exotic animal medicine, Meta-research, especially research on quality and deficit of published clinical papers and Systematic reviews in veterinary medicine.

Potential research projects:

  • Reanalysis of veterinary trials in which a pre-post comparison has been performed
  • Performance of glucometers in bearded dragons
  • Systematic review on the use of sampling sites, abstract reporting and effect on blood parameters in chelonians literature
  • Analysis of published case series/single arm cohort studies in veterinary medicine in regards of the interpretation of their findings

The ideal student will be focused on producing a manuscript for publication at the end of the research.

Jennifer Grindstaff, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Integrative Biology

Research interest areas: We study interactions between the endocrine, immune, and nervous systems in birds and are particularly interested in how early life environments impact adult behavior and physiology.

Potential research projects:

  • Effects of early life stressors on stress physiology and behavior in the zebra finch
  • Impact of a novel bacterial infection on behavior of eastern bluebirds

The ideal student is someone that wants to work on the bluebird project, students would need to have their own vehicle because of social distancing requirements and be excited to work outdoors, including on early mornings. For all projects, ideal students work well as part of a team, are dependable and curious.

Clinton Jones, Ph.D.
Sitlington Professor of Infectious Diseases
Phone: (405) 744-1842

Research interests: My lab works on two neurotropic herpesviruses: bovine herpesvirus 1 (BoHV-1) and herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1). Our research is focused on how these viruses, establish, maintain, and reactivate from latency. Recently, we have been most interested in understanding how stress induces reactivation from latency, and how stress activates viral transcription.

Potential research project: A summer research student would likely become involved with understanding how stress-induced transcription factors regulate viral replication and gene expression.

Veronique Lacombe, DVM, Ph.D. DACVIM, ECEIM
Professor, Physiological Sciences
Phone: (405) 744-8089
Lab Website

Susan Little, DVM, Ph.D., DACVIM and Kathryn Duncan, DVM
Susan Little: Regents Professor, Veterinary Pathobiology
Kathryn Duncan: Resident in Parasitology
Email: ;

Research interests:

Projects related to vector-borne diseases of dogs (heartworm, tick-borne infections), horses (Potomac horse fever), and people (Ehrlichia spp., Rickettsia spp.)

Potential research projects:

  • Novel strategies for detection of tick-borne pathogens in patients
  • Identifying established and novel agents of Potomac horse fever-like disease in equine patients
  • Diversity of Rickettsia in Amblyomma spp. ticks from the southern Great Plains
  • Heartworm diagnostic test performance during treatment for Dirofilaria immitis infection

The ideal student will be independent, curious, hard-working, persistent, and resourceful. They will need to have solid interpersonal skills-considerate and a team player. 

Erika Lutter, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics 
Phone: (405) 744-2532
Lab Website

Research Interests: Exploring infections at mucosal sites with two main research areas: host-pathogen interactions involving Chlamydia trachomatis and polymicrobial interactions of cystic fibrosis infections.

Craig Miller, DVM, Ph.D., DACVP
Assistant Professor, Anatomic Pathologist

Research interests: Immunopathology - Animal models of HIV - Apicomplexan parasite infection kinetics

Potential research projects:

  • Modulating oral immune dysfunction to improve HIV-induced inflammatory disease using the FIV animal model
  • Immunopathology of SARS-CoV-2 infection in domestic cats
  • Development of applications for early detection and improved therapies for Cytauxzoon felis
  • Genomic investigations of  felisantigenic determinants and virulence mechanisms

The ideal student will be dedicated with a strong interest in a career in biomedical research and animal models of disease.

Marianna A. Patrauchan, Ph.D.
Professor, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
Lab website

Research Interests: Calcium signaling in bacterial virulence and host-pathogen interactions 

Ideal student will be someone who is interested in research.

Akhilesh Ramachandran, BVSc., Ph.D., DACVM
Associate Professor, Pathobiology
Phone: (405) 744-6623

Research interests: Genomics, metagenomics, microbiome

Potential research project: Metagenomics based diagnosis of infectious disease

Ideal student will be someone who enjoys research.

Jennifer Rudd, DVM, Ph.D., DACVM
Assistant Professor, Veterinary Pathobiology
Email: (email or zoom meeting preferred)

Research Interests:

  • Respiratory Infectious Disease: influenza, bovine respiratory disease, SARS-CoV-2, pulmonary coinfections (viral/bacterial)
  • Innate immune responses and hyperinflammation in acute infectious disease
  • Johne’s Disease in small ruminants
  • Antimicrobial resistance and judicious antimicrobial usage programs in vet med
  • Scholarship of teaching and learning

Potential Research Projects:

  • I am still considering a few angles for this summer pending how spring projects/grants go, but would most likely have student involvement in a coinfection animal model of pneumonia or evaluating samples for phenotypic changes in innate immune cells in acute respiratory infections.

The ideal student should have these qualities:

  • Creativity
  • Active engagement in discussion, ideas, and conversations about experimental design
  • Willingness to work well with others and professionalism
  • Willingness to do some reading, planning, preparing for the week
  • Interest in infectious diseases

Donald Ruhl Jr., Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Phone: (405) 744-6409

Research Interest:

The Ruhl lab studies epigenome changes in response to extracellular stimuli (ie. hormones, medications, heat) focusing on DNA structural changes and the associated proteins.  Both human cancer cell (cervix, breast) models and a plant (wheat) model system are used to study these processes.

Potential Research Projects:

  • Investigate changes to DNA structure in response to estrogen in human cells. 
  • Develop a method to purify proteins involved in epigenetic regulation of DNA structure. 
  • Determine the molecular interactions of epigenetic proteins with DNA. 

The ideal student is one that is interested in research with a willingness to learn!

Ruth Scimeca, VMD, MSc, PhD, DACVM
Assistant Professor/Clinical Parasitologist
Veterinary Pathobiology/Parasitology

Research Interest: Tick borne diseases, parasitology diagnostics

Potential Research Projects:

  • Establishment of Haemaphysalis longicornis embryonal cell line
  • PCR validation assay to differentiate Neospora, Hammondia and Toxoplasma
  • Characterization of immune response gene expression profile in Dirofilaria immitis microfilaremic dogs during adulticide therapy.

The ideal student will possess these qualities: organized, willing to work independently after initial training, prefer previous experience with molecular biology techniques or cell culture but it is not required.

Brenda Smith, PhD.
Regents Professor, John and Sue Taylor Endowed Professor
Associate Dean of Graduate School
Nutritional Sciences

Research interests: My laboratory is focused on understanding how bioactive food components affect the gut-bone axis through their immune-modulating properties. Ongoing studies are focused on exploring the role of dietary bioactives on T cell populations within the gut mucosal immune system and their contribution to the regulation of bone metabolism. 

The ideal student will be highly motivated, dependable, willing to work independently with some guidance and oversight, and enthusiastic about science and research.

Madhan Subramanian, BvSc, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Physiological Sciences
Lab Page:

Research Interests:

Investigate the neural mechanisms of obesity and aging

The ideal student would be interested in neuroscience.

Lara Sypniewski, DVM, DABVP, CVA, CCRP
Professor, Veterinary Clinical Sciences
Patricia Henthorne Clinical Professorship in Small Animal Medicine
Phone: (918) 704-2273
(Email or text preferred)

Research Interests:

  • Impact of diet on canine health
  • CBD use for anxiety
  • VR clinical case scenario development

The ideal student would be a self-starter, reliable, organized, and consistently follow-through with their work.

Rheal Towner, Ph.D.
Adjunct Associate Professor (OSU) and Director (OMRF)
Veterinary Pathobiology (OSU) and Advanced Magnetic Resonance Center (Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation)
Phone: (405) 271-7383
Lab Website

Research interests: 

  • Neuroinflammation and neurodegenerative diseases (we use a septic encephalopathy model to assess early and prolonged changes in brain morphology, metabolism, vasculature and molecular events).
  • Assessment of therapeutics for gliomas. We have two promising drugs, one of which (OKN-007) is in clinical trials for human glioblastomas (GBM), and the other (antibody against ELTD1) which we have very compelling pre-clinical data for.

Potential research projects:

  • An MRI approach to assess bladder wall hyperpermeability and associated colitis crosstalk during interstitial cystitis.
  • Therapeutic effect of OKN-007 in treating endometrial and colon cancers.
    OKN-007 as a therapeutic for neuro-inflammatory diseases (ALS, septic encephalopathy) and anti-aging applications.
  • GBM therapy (antibody against ELTD1) as a novel marker for multiple sclerosis.

The ideal student will be interested in learning how MRI can be used to assess brain disease to obtain morphological, vascular, metabolic, and molecular information.

Fernando Vicosa Bauermann, DVM, MS, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Veterinary Pathobiology

Research Interests: 

  • Study of viral populations (virome) in production animal species.
  • Virus “survivability” and inactivation methods.
  • Viral pathogenesis.
  • Gene expression profiles during viral infection.

Potential Research Projects:

  • Characterization of the virome in nasal swabs, serum, lymphocytes and feces of calves.
  • Gene expression in monocytes, T and B cells of calves infected with bovine viral diarrhea virus.
  • Pathogenesis of sequential infection of calves with bovine viral diarrhea virus and influenza D virus.
  • Effectiveness of viral inactivation methods used in swine farms.