Student Inspiration Award (Undergraduate), Nivan Mamak Award Winner 2019

Nivan Mamak is a fourth-year veterinary student from India whose sights are firmly set on a research career when she completes her undergraduate training next year.

As part of her undergraduate studies, Nivan carried out a summer vacation project in 2018 investigating a genetic disorder in a family of golden retrievers known as paroxysmal dyskinesia. The disease, which is also found in a wide range of other pedigree breeds, causes abnormal spasmodic movements of the hind limbs that may be mistaken for epileptic seizures.

As part of this project, Nivan learned advanced computer programming methods as well as the techniques involved in the extraction, purification and analysis of canine DNA samples. Her supervisor Dr Jeff Schoenebeck was hugely impressed with the speed with which she developed these skills and says that in her confidence, inquisitiveness and problem-solving abilities she is more like fourth year PhD student than a fourth year undergraduate.

Since completing that vacation project, Nivan has continued to work voluntarily in Dr Schoenebeck’s lab at the Roslin Institute, whenever she can spare time away from her undergraduate studies. He says that over the past few months, she has become a valued member of the research team.

Her award will assist her efforts to complete her veterinary education and go on to use these precociously acquired skills to achieve her goal of improving the health and welfare of many different dog breeds.

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