Robert W. Woolner Undergraduate Summer Research Studentship in One Health

The Woolner studentship is awarded to a faculty member conducting One Health research. It is used to support undergraduate student summer research on this One Health project. The faculty member is responsible for selecting the undergraduate student. There are two studentships available annually.

Summer 2020 Faculty & Student Recipients

Dr. Fiona James

“Comparing canine and human epileptic syndromes”

Fiona James earned a Master’s degree in Neuroscience at the University of Western Ontario before completing her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree at the Ontario Veterinary College. After an internship in Michigan, she returned to the OVC for both a residency in Neurology and a Doctor of Veterinary Science degree. From 2009 to 2011, she was an adjunct faculty member at OVC and a veterinary neurology specialist working at several private practices in Ontario and the U.S. She joined the OVC Neurology Service in 2011. Her research interests include comparative epilepsy, electroencephalography, translational genetics of neurologic disease, and neuroimaging. Currently, she directs the Comparative Epilepsy Program with active projects examining details of canine electroencephalography and epilepsy syndromes.


Rachael Vella

University of Guelph | Undergraduate Studies
Bio-Medical Science

My name is Rachael, and I am thankful that the Woolner Studentship has provided me the opportunity to work with Dr. James on this One Health Project. The project I will be working on examines epileptic seizure patterns in humans and canines. 

I see the one health approach as very advantageous for tackling complicated problems.  This approach facilitates integration and collaboration across many different fields of expertise.

I am entering my fourth year of undergrad at the University of Guelph as a Biomedical Science major, with a  Neuroscience minor. My  academic interest involves brain abnormalities and mental health.  In my spare time I enjoy knitting, sewing, or reading a book.


Dr. Travis Steffens

“Investigating the potential transmission of intestinal pathogens among people, lemurs, and domestic animals in Madagascar”

Travis Steffens has a BSc in Primatology, an MA in Anthropology from the University of Calgary, and a PhD in Evolutionary Anthropology from the University of Toronto. Travis specializes in primate conservation biogeography and applied conservation. Travis has been involved in primate research since 2002 and has conducted many research projects on endangered primates in both Belize, Central America, and Madagascar. In 2015, Travis founded Planet Madagascar to work towards building sustainable forest communities in Madagascar. He combines his research with practical conservation measures to protect lemurs and their habitat and improve the livelihoods of people who live in connection to lemurs. Steffens also serves on the Board of Directors. 


Kiana Gibson

University of Guelph | Undergraduate Studies
Nutrition & Nutraceutical Sciences | International Development
MealCare Guelph Co-President

Kiana Gibson is a third year undergraduate student at the University of Guelph, completing a Bachelor of Arts & Science. Her specializations are in Nutrition and Nutraceutical Sciences as well as International Development, offering a unique lens through which she has studied global health issues. Kiana is eager to participate in Dr. Steffens One Health project, as it provides her the incredible opportunity to explore connections between lemur endangerment, human livelihood, and climate change impacts in Madagascar.

Beyond her education, Kiana recognizes the importance of a One Health approach within her community. She co-founded MealCare Guelph, an organization dedicated to reducing food waste and tackling food insecurity. Kiana’s leadership through MealCare has resulted in the redistribution of over 10,000 pounds of leftover food from campus dining halls to the Student Food Bank and community partners. She has learned that food security is complex, and that a multi-disciplinary, One Health approach is key to addressing food-related issues both at the local and global levels.

Through the Robert W. Woolner Studentship, Kiana hopes to combine her passions in development and nutrition, gaining a greater understanding of how One Health research can promote health outcomes for people, animals, and the environment alike.