Penn Vet Student Is Awarded Fulbright Grant to Research Swine Abroad
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
[May 2, 2011; Kennett Square, PA] – Seth Dunipace is a graduating senior at University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine. He will be spending the 2011-2012 academic year studying and conducting research in Denmark. Dunipace has received notification that he has been awarded a coveted Fulbright grant to pursue these endeavors. Dunipace is the first graduating veterinary student in more than 15 years to be awarded a Fulbright grant.
Dunipace, a native of California and graduate of Princeton University, has gained a particular interest in swine farming since arriving at Penn Vet. Last summer he travelled to Denmark to study that country’s methods of swine husbandry and medicine.
“I chose Denmark because they work under very high animal welfare standards,” said Dunipace. “The current project was developed to further my understanding of management and veterinary practices of Danish swine farmers.”
A particular area of interest for the young researcher is decreasing the stillbirth rate of piglets born to Danish sows. Though the Danish mother sows are known for large litters -- 14 piglets or more -- the percentage of stillbirths within each litter is high.
“You would like to see that percentage decrease,” explained Dunipace, “both from an economic and welfare standpoint.”
Throughout the European Union, welfare for farm animals has been improving. By 2013 all sows will be “free housed” in open pens, and can only be confined to gestation crates for a short time following breeding.
This housing structure differs from common practices in other parts of the world, including the US. The Swine Teaching and Research Center at Penn Vet’s New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, PA is at the forefront of swine husbandry research and the teaching of swine production medicine, and is investigating alternative models of modern, humane swine husbandry, including those similar to that used in Europe, for producers throughout Pennsylvania and the United States. The recently renovated building features state-of-the-art technologies for animal comfort, animal feeding, and nutrient management. Along with its research endeavors, the Swine Center also creates a unique training environment for veterinary students like Dunipace.
“Exposure to these alternative systems provides future swine veterinarians with expertise that will be needed by the next generation of pig farmers and undoubtedly helped position the forward thinking Dunipace for his successful Fulbright bid,” said Tom Parsons, VMD, PhD director of the Swine Research and Training Center at Penn Vet.
Dunipace will start his year in Copenhagen, then travel to swine facilities throughout the country. He plans to apply his research on management procedures for a master’s thesis at the University of Copenhagen.
“Good welfare is tied to economics,” said Dunipace. “Unless you make welfare economical for producers, you won’t be able to advance the policies.”
The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program introduced by late Senator J. William Fulbright and sponsored by the U.S. government. It is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Selection for the Fulbright Student Program is highly selective, emphasizing leadership potential, academic and professional achievement, and commitment to mutual understanding. Approximately 1,500 scholarships are awarded each year.
Penn's School of Veterinary Medicine is one of the world's premier veterinary schools. Founded in 1884, the School was built on the concept of Many Species, One Medicine. The birthplace of veterinary specialties, the School serves a distinctly diverse array of animal patients, from pets to horses to farm animals at our two campuses. In Philadelphia, on Penn's campus, are the Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital for companion animals, as well as classrooms, laboratories and the School's administrative offices. The large-animal facility, New Bolton Center, in Kennett Square, Pa., encompasses hospital facilities for the care of horses and food animals as well as diagnostic laboratories serving the agriculture industry. The School has successfully integrated scholarship and scientific discovery with all aspects of veterinary medical education.
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