The trio stand outside against a short brick wall smiling and holding up an oversized check

Purdue Large Animal Surgeon wins $10,000 prize for equine research and earns Ph.D.

Friday, December 2, 2022

The trio stand outside against a small brick wall smiling and holding an oversized check
Dr. Michelle Tucker (center), Purdue Assistant Professor of Large Animal Surgery, holding her award check with Dr. Renate Weller (left), Dean of the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, and Dr. Renaud Leguillette, equine clinician in internal medicine and sports medicine who shares Dr. Tucker’s interest in equine respiratory mechanics. (Photo by Adrian Shellard)

Graduate studies at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Canada came to a surprisingly successful conclusion this fall for Dr. Michelle Tucker, assistant professor of large animal surgery at Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine. She was not only one of 17 graduating college students who received their graduate degrees at the University of Saskatchewan’s fall convocation on Nov. 9, but she also took home the grand prize. $10,000 to the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine International Equine Symposium two months earlier. September 9.

Dr. Tucker received the award for presenting the best platform at the symposium, which was held at the University of Calgary’s Spy Hill Campus. The symposium is described as a global celebration of equine health with the theme for 2022 being the equine athlete. Sponsored by the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Spruce Meadows, the event culminated in an awards ceremony on Friday night at the famed Spruce Meadow Master Tournament, an international show jumping competition at Calgary.

“I presented part of my PhD work titled ‘Computational Fluid Dynamics Analysis of Upper Airway Procedures in Equine Larynges’, as a 20-minute podium presentation,” said Dr Tucker. , adding that the conference focused on innovations in equine research. . His talk detailed research on laboratory and computer models of the equine larynx and won top marks from the judges. “I was incredibly humbled and just thrilled. They had to call my name several times before I realized they were calling my name,” Dr. Tucker said in a November 10 article by writer Jessica Colby published by the Western College of Veterinary Medicine.

For Dr. Tucker, pursuing a career as a specialist in equine surgery follows earlier studies at the University of Kentucky where she earned a degree in biosystems engineering and biology. She then went to Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and graduated from DVM in 2014. After graduation, Dr. Tucker completed internships at Equine Medical Associates Inc. and Kansas State University , before moving to Saskatoon where she began a residency in large animal surgery at the University of Saskatchewan – Western College of Veterinary Medicine. After completing residency and board certification with the American College of Veterinary Surgeons in 2020, she entered the direct path to the doctoral program – supervised by an equine surgical specialist from the Department of Clinical Sciences of the large animals from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine. She joined the Purdue faculty in October 2021.

“Moving to Canada has been one of the greatest adventures of my life so far and I’ve really grown from it,” said Dr. Tucker, who grew up in Kentucky. “I was able to work with great people.”

As explained in the Western College of Veterinary Medicine article, Dr. Tucker’s research focused on a condition known as recurrent laryngeal neuropathy (RLN) – also known as “roaring” in horses. The condition involves the degeneration of recurrent laryngeal nerves, causing audible and abnormal breath sounds during exercise. As part of her PhD, she studied two different models of multiple upper airway surgeries for recurrent laryngeal neuropathy.

Dr. Tucker said the most exciting part of his research was being able to explain some of the phenomena that veterinarians see in their patients associated with RLN surgery and why these occur from a fluid mechanics perspective. “There is still so much we don’t know about this part of the equine airway, and a lot of exciting technology [is] on the horizon.”

Dr. Tucker said winning the grand prize at the Calgary symposium in September meant a lot to her. “As any doctoral student can tell you, there are so many days that you feel like you’re the only one who sees the value in what you’re doing,” Dr. Tucker said. “Winning was just amazing and was an encouragement for others to see the value in what I do.”

Click here to see a press release from the University of Calgary about the research award.

Kevin Doer |

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