Picha, 29, is believed to be the first woman veterinarian in Peru to attend veterinary graduate school in the U.S. While she was practicing in a Peruvian city in the Andes Mountains, her boss urged her to come to WSU for more training.
“He had been to this university and was impressed by the people who taught and did research,” she said.
During her three-month visit as an understudy, Mushtaq Memon, WSU associate professor of comparative animal reproduction, encouraged Picha to apply for a Fulbright scholarship.
“I remember talking to her and how she told me in broken English that she loved it here and wanted to attend graduate school,” said Memon, who had recently returned from a Fulbright fellowship in Oman.
Picha was awarded Fulbright funding to attend graduate school and a rigorous English language program. In May, she will receive her M.S. in theriogenology, giving her advanced training in animal reproduction and obstetrics. Her research is mostly on alpacas, distant relatives of the camel that resemble small llamas.
She works closely with Memon and her advisor, Ahmed Tibary, a veterinary reproduction professor. Though much of her field research was done in Peru, Picha also studied WSU’s own herd of alpacas – more gentle than those in her home country, she said.
In Peru, alpacas are viewed more as “business subjects,” and not shown much affection, she said. Until she came to WSU, “I had no idea alpacas could be so kind or so smart.”
Picha’s talk is part of the spring Fulbright Academy lecture series, supported by a grant from WSU CougParents.