Sarah Sharp, a third-year D.V.M. candidate at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, has received a 2013 Switzer Environmental Fellowship, a prestigious academic award given to promising environmental leaders.
Of this year’s 22 fellows, chosen from graduate programs in New England and California, Sharp is the only to student to represent the field of veterinary medicine. Each fellow is awarded $15,000 to complete masters and doctoral degrees to advance their skills and develop expertise to address critical environmental challenges.
Sharp’s veterinary studies focus on wildlife and conservation medicine. She has worked with the International Fund for Animal Welfare on marine mammal rescues, and served in Americorps in the environmental and disaster programs.
Last summer, Sharp participated in the Student Summer Research Program at Tufts University. Her research, funded by the U.S. Army Medical Command, investigated if certain health assessment parameters could predict whether or not the dolphins would survive after being released from shore. By better understanding which values are important in terms of survival, stranding responders and veterinarians can make better informed release decisions and start to uncover the reasons for stranding. This study was the first of its kind to identify blood work and body condition values from stranded dolphins that correlated with their survival after release. Her findings are now being utilized in the field to improve decision-making procedures.
“Today’s environmental issues are increasingly complex and require an ability to translate scientific, ecological and social knowledge across disciplines and apply it in real world settings,” said Switzer Executive Director Lissa Widoff. “The 2013 Switzer Environmental Fellows are at the cutting edge of science and policy and will be supported with funding, professional coaching and a network of leaders to help them achieve results. Their problem-solving abilities and innovation will make a difference.”
In the future, Sharp would like to practice wildlife veterinary medicine and conduct research on marine animal health within the context of broader conservation efforts. In the interest of cultivating a more holistic approach to environmental stewardship, her goal is to work across disciplines to bridge the gap between the fields of veterinary medicine and environmental conservation.
The Switzer Environmental Fellowship is a program of the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation. More information on the 2013 Switzer Fellows and other Switzer Foundation Grants recipients can be found at www.switzernetwork.org.