Robert W. Woolner Undergraduate Summer Research Studentship in One Health

The Woolner studentship is awarded to a University of Guelph 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 University of Guelph undergraduate student. There are two studentships available annually.

*Call for Proposals Open – Deadline EXTENDED to January 15th*

All communications about these positions should be sent to


Many of today’s biggest health challenges – climate change, food security, emerging diseases, antimicrobial resistance – are very complex and cannot be solved by focusing on only one area and using only one perspective. These challenges need a much broader approach, an approach like One Health. One Health recognizes that we can improve life by understanding that the health of animals, humans, and the environment depend on one another. In a complex world like ours, the environment can refer to our physical environment and natural world, but it can also include social, political, and financial conditions.

One Health aims to create solutions that improve health in all these areas – animal, human and environment – not just one. One Health research brings disciplines together to leverage knowledge discovery from animal and human populations and the environment to benefit society as a whole.

The One Health Institute (OHI) is pleased to offer the Dr. Robert W. Woolner One Health Summer Research Studentship. This summer studentship is designed to offer an experiential learning opportunity in research to two University of Guelph undergraduate students interested in One Health. The Studentship will support an opportunity for these undergraduate students to engage in a semi-independent research project or participate in a larger, ongoing research project during the summer of 2021. By engaging in this research opportunity, the student will begin to develop One Health skills and competencies that will enable them to work at the forefront of these complex health challenges, cross disciplinary boundaries, conduct multidisciplinary research, mobilize knowledge, and inform policy.

Value and Duration

$8000 will be provided for student salaries. Students must be present for a maximum of 35 hours per week during the entire 14-week period of the research project. As students will receive 4% vacation pay on their hourly rate, it is expected that they will work full-time (35hrs/week) for the entire 14 weeks.

In addition to the salary, the faculty advisor for each approved position will receive $1000 in operating support.

Award Allocation

The Studentship will be allocated through a two-stage process:

Stage 1: Selection of faculty project proposals by the OHI Director and members of the OHI Advisory Board

Stage 2: Selection of students by the faculty members successful in Stage 1

Schedule of Dates

Friday, December 18, 2020Call for Project Proposals Opens
Friday, January 15, 2021Project Proposals Due
By end of January 2021Successful Proposals Announced
February 2021Student Application Window Opens
Student Application Deadline

Stage 1: Faculty Project Proposals

How to Apply

Please download and complete the fillable project proposal form (below) and submit it by email to by 11:59PM on Monday, January 11, 2021.

Evaluation Process & Criteria

The Director, OHI, with members of the OHI Advisory Board will select the research proposal that will be associated with the Studentships based on the following criteria:

  • Suitability of the project for DVM and other undergraduate summer research students
  • Clarity and feasibility of the research objectives and experimental plan
  • Faculty record of research student advising, research productivity and availability of operating funds and infrastructure for the summer research project
  • Relevance of the proposed research to One Health (i.e. research occurring at the confluence of human, animal and environmental health)

Stage 2: Student Selection

The two research projects chosen will be posted on the One Health website. Students interested in working on a specific summer research project will contact faculty members directly to discuss possible involvement with the project.

Evaluation Criteria
  • Academic record (transcripts provided by student), general interest in One Health and the summer research project (submit a one-page letter demonstrating interest in One Health)
  • Willingness to adhere to the terms and conditions of the studentship, particularly the commitment to being present for a maximum of 35 hours per week during the entire 14-week period of the research project. As students will receive 4% vacation pay on their hourly rate, it is expected that they will work full-time (35hrs/week) for the entire 14 weeks.
Award Establishment

Once the faculty member has selected the successful student candidate, faculty will inform the One Health Institute Advisory Board at of the:

  • Faculty name
  • Faculty department
  • Project name
  • Name of the student chosen
  • Student email address
  • Student number
  • Faculty general purpose account number

Terms & Conditions

Faculty advisors must:

  • Be available to supervise the summer research student for the entire 14-week period (or longer if the student is employed for a longer period)
  • Provide an advisory and mentoring role to motivate and guide the student and to foster an interest in One Health research
  • Be flexible in research work hours to allow students to participate in the Career Opportunities and Research Exploration (CORE) program or other similar program available in the college in which the student is registered
  • Complete a survey evaluating the student’s performance and the efficacy of the program at completion

Recipients of the Summer Research Studentships must:

  • Be a full-time University of Guelph student in good standing who is registered in Phase 1 or 2 of the DVM program, or after 2nd or 3rd year of a related University of Guelph undergraduate program and returning in the fall
  • Be available to work on the research project for 14 weeks full-time (i.e. 35 hours/week) between May 1 and August 31, 2021
  • Participate in the summer CORE program if no such program is available in the college in which the student is registered
  • Complete a survey evaluating the research experience and the mentor’s performance
  • Participate in the CPHAZ One Health Poster Day in the fall semester of 2021

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.