By Alyssa Stastny | April 29, 2019
Students pose with Dr. Mason

Researchers in Dr. Jeff Mason’s lab at Utah State University focus on studying the relationship between reproductive senescence and health as well as well as orthopedic gene therapy in large animal models. Three of the senior honors students in Mason's lab have recently been accepted to veterinary school for the upcoming fall semester, and a fourth honors student plans to apply to vet school this summer while working at a veterinary clinic. Although each student has a different story to tell about their journey, they all exemplify the dedication and excellence found in the Department of Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences.

Anisa Samhouri

Anisa Samhouri’s mother is a veterinarian. She said one of the side effects of growing up with a vet in the house was a strong opposition to becoming a veterinarian herself. Many people told Samhouri that she would be vet like her mother, and she always responded that she didn’t know what she was going to do but assured them she wasn’t going to be a vet.

That all changed when Samhouri’s horse became lame. She felt frustrated that she had neither the tools or knowledge to address the issue herself. It took visits to several veterinarians to pinpoint the diagnosis. During this experience, Samhouri realized she had the passion to study veterinary medicine and a desire to help people in situations similar to her own.

"I want to be able to be that competent vet for someone else," Samhouri said.

Samhouri will be attending vet school at Colorado State University. She hopes to become a large animal practitioner, working with animals such as cattle, horses and sheep. She is also interested in rural practice and would like to work in underserved areas, making quality veterinary care more accessible to everyone.

McKenna Walters

Growing up on a cattle ranch instilled in McKenna Walters a dream of becoming a veterinarian. She worked hard towrads her dream by completeing internships with veterinarians in her county and taking relevant courses in junior high and high school. Walters’ desire to be a veterinarian is rooted in her love for animals. Eventually, she would like to practice mixed animal veterinary medicine.

"I think animals are cool because they can be your livelihood and they can also be your family and they can be your comfort," Walters said.

According to Walters, her family has been her biggest supporters. When her now husband asked for permission to marry her, her dad agreed but told him that he needed to support her goals at school which were a priority for her. Walters said she is grateful for a family who has pushed her to achieve the goals she sets for herself and who don’t let her “slack off.”

Madelin Session

Madelin Session started working in Mason’s lab last spring after deciding to look into the world of research. After exploring the research happening in different labs in the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences, she had the opportunity to join Dr. Mason’s lab.

Her role in the lab has focused primarily on helping graduate students with their projects, such as running sheep for osteoarthritis research and checking blood pressure in mice. Her experience in the lab has given her a chance to participate in research outside of the classroom and see the research process in action as she takes a hands-on role.

Session encourages freshmen to get to know their professors and develop good relationships with them. She said this will be helpful whether they want to get involved with research, or could use guidance in jobs and schooling. Session will be working at a veterinary clinic full-time this summer and plans to apply for veterinary school during that time.

Kyleigh Tyler

Kyleigh Tyler transferred to Utah State University to be able to focus her studies on animal science. She quickly took advantage of the undergraduate research opportunities available at USU. In Mason's Lab, she works on projects studying menopause, longevity and overall health in post reproductive mouse models. Working in the lab has given her opportunities to travel the country to both present and conduct research.

Tyler has developed a love for research and plans to pursue both a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicaine and a PhD in preparation for a career in lab animal research and medicine. She sees the potential to make a difference through the human applications of this research.

"I think I have kind of a knack for [research] and so I think I could do it for a long time and enjoy it," Tyler stated.

Tyler encourages students to seize every opportunity and follow their interests. This is something she has tried to focus on throughout her time in college. She admits this resulted in being incredibly busy, but that it was worth it.

"Do things that come your way and just take every opportunity," Tyler said. "It will lead you places you didn’t think it would lead you."

Congratulations to each of these exemplary students as they continue to pursue their goals. We are very proud to have them represent ADVS in their future endeavors.

Students with Sheep

Mouse during grip test

Contact: Kate Parkinson, Email:
Writer: Alyssa Stastny, Email: