Research Apprenticeship Program Student Spotlight: Abbi Blais


Name: Abbi Blais
Major: B.S. Animal Science, Pre-Vet
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Johny
Graduation Year: 2020

What project are you currently involved in?
I will be working in coordination with researchers at the Modiano Lab. There are 100+ unexplored samples from dogs who suffered from osteosarcoma in the freezer right now. My task, with the help of others, will be to identify a chunk of those samples that we have the most information on. Then, I will be doing tissue culture and PCR to determine which of the cells behave the best so they may be used in future work.

Why are you interested in this project?
I'm interested in this project because of the impact it could have on future research. Osteosarcoma greatly affects large dog breeds and is a problem in the pediatric world as well. Any progression in research is positive and will ultimately help to reduce the number of dogs and children suffering and dying from this cancer.

What do you hope to accomplish with this project?
Through this project, I hope to become skilled and accurate in lab work as well as make a difference in osteosarcoma research. Realistically, my contribution will be small, but if I am able to identify well-behaved cell lines, then other researchers in the lab will have the potential to make big things happen with them in the future.

What do you wish others would know about the project/problem you are working with?
I want others to be aware of the severity of osteosarcoma and the staggering rate at which it affects large dogs. If you are a large dog owner, please, be educated and talk to your veterinarian if you have any concerns.

What are your plans after graduation?
I plan to attend veterinary school at the University of Minnesota or Colorado State University and specialize in small animals. After graduating from veterinary school, I hope to work in a clinic or open my own practice.

Why did you decide to participate in the RAP program?
I am participating in the RAP program to fulfill my URS scholarship. Beginning research as a freshman is a crazy opportunity, and I'm very lucky to have it.