Alumni Make Their Mark: A Q&A with Diane Scavelli, Class of 2011

Originally from Colts Neck, NJ, Diane Scavelli graduated from Ranney in 2011. She was the recipient of Ranney’s Gershom Tomlinson Humanitarian Award. Since then, Diane earned her bachelor’s degree in Animal Sciences from Cornell University, where she served as an undergraduate research assistant, and she is currently pursuing her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at Colorado State University, where she is a DVM Student Ambassador.

Diane’s article, “Abdominal Ultrasound Examination Findings in 534 Hyperthyroid Cats Referred for Radioiodine Treatment Between 2007-2010” was published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine in June 2015. Here, she talks about her journey to date in the veterinary sciences—and how her high school research project at Ranney started it all…
 
Your senior-year Capstone* research project at Ranney kicked off your research in veterinary medicine. How did your Capstone experience inspire you? 
“I had decided to do a Capstone project my senior year at Ranney in order to gain exposure to the research aspect of veterinary medicine before starting my undergraduate studies in animal science. Through my Capstone project, I confirmed my passion for the field of veterinary medicine and discovered that the research areas I was most interested in were those that were clinically based. This experience led me to explore more routes of research during my undergraduate career.” 
 
What inspired you to write the article for the Journal of Veterinary Medicine
“I had initially become interested in the topic of feline hyperthyroidism as part of my Capstone project, after seeing a number of patients with this disease whose owners would have to decide if the pre-screening diagnostic tool, ultrasound, was essential and cost-effective for the long term prognosis of the patient. For the publishing of the paper, I was approached by a veterinarian who started working at the hospital where I collected my data who wanted to use the research I had completed in high school in order to expand it further. Though I was away at college, I was able to collaborate with her by sending and explaining the data I had collected.” 
 
 How does it feel to be published at such a young age? 
“It felt great to be published! The paper was started two years before it was actually printed so it was quite a relief to finally see a printed copy with my name on it. Since I have already been fortunate enough to be a part of an accepted project, it has also encouraged me to do more research and work toward publishing another article.”
 
What are your next research projects?
“During my time at Cornell University, I became involved in research again the summer before my junior year. The lab I worked in had a focus in nerve regeneration where I was able to head my own project focused on culturing in situ nerve cells, specifically Schwann cells of the peripheral nervous system. The purpose of my project was to generate a bank of Schwann cells to be used in nerve grafts. Unfortunately, since graduating, I am no longer involved with the research and have passed my work on to other members of the lab. Now that I am in veterinary school at Colorado State University pursuing my doctorate, my first two years are quite academically rigorous - so I plan to stay focused on my academics for now and hope to explore new options in research later on in my veterinary career.”
 
 
*Ranney School students complete a Capstone project at the end of their fifth-grade, eighth-grade and twelfth-grade years. The year-long, in-depth research projects are student directed and interdisciplinary. Students present their final projects to their peers, advisors and families.

**This interview was conducted with the help of Allison Harpell, Class of 2018.
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