PULLMAN, Wash. — The increasing role of veterinarians in homeland security has led to a top student award for a Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine neuroscience undergraduate.

Lindsay Fry, a junior from Boise, Idaho, has received a scholarship from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The scholarship will cover the full cost of her tuition and fees at WSU, plus a stipend of $2,000 per month for the duration of her internship.

Fry’s goal is a career in research after graduating with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. 

“As a veterinarian, I can play a role in homeland security even if I am not employed by the government,” she said.  Of the specific government research internship possibilities offered by DHS, she is particularly interested in working with an animal disease research team on Plumb Island

The DHS award is intended for students whose career goals include pursuing the basic science and technology innovations that can be applied to the department’s mission. Also, the agency is looking for work that applies to the unified national effort to secure America by preventing and deterring terrorist attacks, protecting against and responding to threats and national hazards and ensuring safe and secure borders.

In her application essay, Fry wrote that, “Veterinarians now play an increased role in the effectiveness of detection and prevention of threats to U.S. security, including biological terrorist threats.”

Veterinarians are extensively trained in comparative medicine and the disease process.  They are also trained to diagnose zoonotic, exotic and emerging diseases. Zoonotic diseases are those that affect humans as well as animals. Veterinarians are trained to recognize symptoms of possible disease agents that could be a terrorist’s choice. Such diseases could threaten public health and destroy important components of the U.S. economy if intentionally released.

Fry added, “Veterinary research is also on the forefront of efforts to understand these diseases and develop methods to prevent their outbreak and rapid propagation throughout the U.S.” 

DHS is focused on handling possible attacks as quickly and efficiently as possible. In this, veterinarians’ proficiency in disease management, diagnosis and prevention will aid in the containment of a possible attack whether it affects animals, people or both.