Competitive Scholarship Supports Ph.D. Student’s Veterinary Journey

Story by Harley Nokes, VMBS Communications

Rachel Busselman headshot
Rachel Busselman

Rachel Busselman, a third-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) student at the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (VMBS), has been chosen to receive a $20,000 scholarship from the P.E.O. Sisterhood, a philanthropic educational organization dedicated to supporting higher education for women.

Busselman, who is originally from Omaha, Nebraska, has also been a Ph.D. student in ecology and evolutionary biology at Texas A&M University since 2018. She is one of 110 doctoral students to receive the award.

“My doctoral program finishes at the end of 2023, along with my university fellowship and grant funding for my Ph.D. work, so the P.E.O. Scholar Award will go a long way to support me financially over the next year as I continue the DVM program,” Busselman said. “The award will also support me as I continue working on a number of research projects that aren’t officially a part of my dissertation but I am still excited to see through to the end.”

With roughly 6,000 chapters and nearly a quarter-million active members, the P.E.O. Sisterhood established the Scholar Awards in 1991 to provide merit-based awards for women seeking doctoral degrees at accredited colleges or universities in the United States and Canada.

The P.E.O. award recognizes a select group of women who have displayed high levels of academic achievement and the potential for having a positive impact on society.

Busselman’s veterinary training broadened the scope of her doctoral research on vector-borne diseases of humans and animals, with a focus on canine Chagas disease.

“My focus on insect vectors and naturally infected animals is aimed at determining risk factors for dogs, clinical impacts of infection, and what we can do to reduce the risk of infection to dogs,” Busselman said. “But I became convinced that, for me, clinical training in veterinary medicine would expand the research questions I know to ask and help my work improve animal health.”

Since starting the DVM program in 2021, Busselman has also received the Nebraska Veterinary Medical Association’s Dr. Boyd Burhoop Memorial Scholarship and the VMBS 2023 Outstanding Ph.D. Student Award.

“I have been challenged to not only think of the research projects I am working on from the lens of a researcher but also as a future veterinarian,” Busselman said. “I am incredibly thankful that I’ve been able to participate in both programs because I feel more prepared to ask questions about the ecology, epidemiology and clinical impact of zoonotic diseases and see connections between these disciplines.”


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Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Director of VMBS Communications, Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences,, 979-862-4216

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