Amelia Jennette

Amelia Jennette will be graduating with the class of 2024 as a Pre-Veterinary Science and Biology double major. Despite accidentally choosing the hottest day of Summer 2019 for her campus tour, Amelia decided to attend UMass for its unique research opportunities, ample hands-on experiences, and admittedly, the nationally top ranked dining. Her decision was also supported by receiving the Chancellor’s Award Scholarship, which significantly reduced out-of-state tuition.

Amelia grew up in rural upstate New York where she spent her time horseback riding, exploring nature, and attempting to train her beagle-Australian Shepherd mix. In high school she was a member of the local Interscholastic Equestrian Association Team, involved in her school’s Primitive Pursuits club, and dabbled in dog agility through a 4H group. During her senior year of high school, Amelia really got excited about veterinary medicine after shadowing several Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine Services veterinarians.

Having grown up around horses and after working for an equine ambulatory clinic the summer after high school, Amelia began her time at UMass being primarily equine-focused. She had always wanted to try polo, and jumped on the opportunity to join the UMass Polo Team, through which she has found a sense of community throughout her college career. Amelia was also able to join Dr. Gradil’s Equine IUD lab, where she learned jugular venipuncture and assisted with reproductive ultrasounds, IUD insertions, and uterine swabs on the UMass Hadley Farm mares. She then cultured the swabs and prepared bacterial inoculums under the mentorship of Dr. Becker. As she became more involved with the lab, Amelia received funding to continue her research over the summer through the UMass CAFE Summer Scholars Program. At the end of the summer, she presented her work on the potential for copper IUDs to treat antimicrobial resistant uterine infections in mares at the program’s poster session. She also received the Equine Studies Program Endowment Scholarship.

Wanting to branch out from equine medicine after her sophomore year, Amelia was excited to see an opening at The Cat Hospital posted by UMass. She has now been working there for almost two years and is incredibly grateful for the experience, which has solidified her desire to pursue veterinary medicine. Under the mentorship of Dr. Ricksgers, Amelia has learned many hands-on skills, including client communication, clinical lab work, radiograph setup, venipuncture, and anesthesia monitoring, as well as stress-limiting handling specific to cats. She also met one of her current roommates, and her cat, Linguine, at the clinic.

Having an interest in wildlife but knowing little about it, on a whim, Amelia ran for Vice President of the UMass Amherst Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society. She was elected her junior year, discovered her passion for wildlife, and became President of the club during her senior year. She has worked hard to regain the club’s RSO (Registered Student Organization) status after it was lost during the pandemic, and is proud that with the help of a dedicated Officer Team and club advisor, Dr. Klingler, the club now hosts regular meetings and off-campus field trips. After being recognized for her dedication to the club, Amelia was able to attend The Wildlife Society 2023 Annual Conference in Louisville Kentucky expense-free. She and her fellow officers are in the process of getting funding to send students to the 2024 conference.

Wanting to gain more wildlife experience and after hearing about Loop Abroad through the UMass Pre-Veterinary and Animal Sciences Club, Amelia attended Loop Abroad’s Belize Jaguar and Primate Research Program the summer before her senior year. Through this program, she spent two weeks in Belize learning about field research techniques and gained insight on zoo medicine from the Belize Zoo’s veterinarian. A highlight of the program was assisting with a spay and neuter clinic hosted by the zoo and being able to place the external stitches for a spay under the veterinarian’s guidance.

During that same summer, Amelia joined Dr. Fissore’s lab after enjoying his Physiology of Reproduction Course. It has been a great experience being able to see what she learned about in class in real life, and she has gained many laboratory skills while working with mice, including oocyte collection, embryo culture, immunofluorescence, intraperitoneal injections, and genotyping. She is currently working on her thesis about the effects of Magnesium supplementation in embryo culture media on blastocyst development, and how this may relate to the function of TRPM7 (transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily M member 7).

Amelia is very appreciative of the diverse opportunities offered by UMass which have allowed her to fully explore her interests, and all the inspiring mentors she has met during her time here. She would like to thank Dr. Ricksgers and the Cat Hospital staff (including hospital cats Harry and Zeke), Dr. Gradil, Dr. Becker, Dr. Klingler, Dr. Fissore, and PhD candidate, Neha Gupta for their amazing support and mentorship. Amelia will apply to vet school during the upcoming cycle to pursue a career in wildlife conservation and One Health. She plans to spend her gap year gaining more wildlife experience and hanging out with Linguine.