Student helps conduct advanced embryo research

Trinita Barboza and Dr. Marty Darrow work in the lab at the Abbotsford Veterinary Clinic.

Trinita Barboza, a second year biology student at Trinity Western University, dreamed of being a vet when she was young. What began as a childhood passion has developed into an academic pursuit as Barboza gains internship experience in Biotechnology, a new and applied science program at TWU. As a part of the program, Barboza has a practicum with Marty Darrow, MS, DMV at the Abbotsford Veterinary Clinic which specializes in embryo transfer programs for dairy herds.

While Barboza has had experience working with animals at the Greater Vancouver Zoo and the South Surrey Animal Hospital, her practicum focuses on unique lab components of veterinary practice, such as in vivo embryo transfers. “What Trinita is learning is very different from standard veterinary medicine,” says Darrow, an expert in veterinary endocrinology, the study of hormones, specifically in regards to reproduction. “The embryo transfer technology she is being exposed to is cutting edge and highly sought after world-wide.”

During her spring break, Barboza worked full time at the clinic with Darrow, gaining lab experience in embryo transfer and dairy farming. Barboza says, “I hadn’t realized this aspect of veterinary medicine, but it’s fascinating. Embryo transfers opens up different breeding possibilities because the farmer can choose the genetics of his herd. And, it is safe for the cows, non-invasive, and non-surgical.”   

24-03-2010-biotech02Darrow explains the importance of experiencing different aspects of veterinary medicine, “It is about broadening your horizons and seeing what is out there. The embryo transfer industry is becoming more prominent, there is a need for a new generation of experts that have both lab and animal experience. So for Trinita to be exposed to both facets is very important.”    

TWU Assistant Professor of Biology and Director of Biotechnology Julia Mills, Ph.D. is also excited for the opportunity Barboza’s practicum has provided. “We try to set up students with internships that fit with their career path. In veterinary medicine many programs require experience in the field which one would typically not get at an undergraduate level. But through an internship such as the one Trinita has, she will not only be working in the labs but applying her training on site.”

Previous biotech students have had practicum placements at labs such as Neova Technologies Inc., a R&D Bioprotection Laboratory in Abbotsford, and Vancouver’s Jack Bell Research Centre, but Barboza’s internship with a veterinary practice is novel and might open new opportunities for TWU’s biotech program. “This practicum is a first for us,” Mills furthers, “and it is one that will help serve the farming community in which we find ourselves.”

And for Barboza, the chance to witness a different side of veterinary medicine has expanded her own studies and career goals. “One of the biggest reasons I wanted to do this is because I know that there are many fields in veterinary practice, and I want to experience as many as I can so I know what I want to go into.” She adds, “This experience, it has opened so many doors.  I know that there is so much more out there that I can experience and learn, and I am excited for that.” 


Trinity Western University, in Langley, B.C., is a provincially chartered, independent Christian liberal arts and sciences university, enrolling approximately 4000 students. TWU offers 42 undergraduate majors, ranging from biotechnology, education, theatre and music, to psychology, communications and biblical studies. TWU's 16 graduate degree programs include nursing, counseling psychology, marriage and family therapy, business, theology, linguistics, and leadership, and interdisciplinary degrees in English, philosophy and history. TWU holds Canada Research Chairs in Dead Sea Scroll Studies, Developmental Genetics and Disease, and Interpretation, Religion & Culture.

Last Updated: 2010-04-26
Author: Elisabeth Fallon