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Guinea pigs help Kansas State University veterinary student take third place in history essay contest

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Kelsey Madden

Kelsey Madden, who is entering her second year of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine studies at Kansas State University, is the third-place winner in the2016 J. Fred Smithcors Student Veterinary History Essay Contest. | Download this photo.


MANHATTAN — An essay about the history of some favorite fuzzy pets recently earned a third-place prize for Kansas State University veterinary medicine student Kelsey Madden, Olathe, in the 2016 J. Fred Smithcors Student Veterinary History Essay Contest.

Madden, who just finished her first year of studies in the College of Veterinary Medicine, earned an $800 award for the essay "The Guinea Pig: Endearing, Enduring or Both?" The essay will be published in the May 2017 issue of the semiannual journal, Veterinary Heritage.

"I have two pet guinea pigs, Betty and Alice, and I was originally going to write about something else, but realized there was a lot of good information I could draw from," Madden said. "I learned that over the course of history, guinea pigs have been used in experiments that led to 23 different Nobel Prizes. There are countless factoids related to these animals, like the discovery of circulation in the 16th century."

Madden, who also has a horse, said she would one day like to work in a mixed animal veterinary practice after she graduates with her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Kansas State University.

Madden's award-winning essay was revised from a paper for her history of veterinary medicine class.

Howard Erickson, professor emeritus of anatomy and physiology, teaches the history course and routinely encourages his students to submit their research papers for the Smithcors Essay contest.

"I suggest topics for the students, but encourage them to pick a topic they are passionate about — really interested in — and this is what Kelsey did," Erickson said. "Kelsey also had a very unique title for her paper. It included excellent figures and was very well-referenced."

The contest is named in honor of J. Fred Smithcors for his many contributions to veterinary history, including as founder of the American Veterinary Medical History Society, the author of several books on veterinary history, and as an educator, publisher and editor. Since 2012, grants from the Donaldson Charitable Trust have made it possible to award four prizes in honor of Dr. Elizabeth Atwood Lawrence, twice American Veterinary Medical History Society president and former essay contest judge.


Howard Erickson


College of Veterinary Medicine

News tip


Written by

Joe Montgomery